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HIV prevention research poses new challenges to investigators and advocates. These include:
- The epidemic’s disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities
- The nature of prevention research, which enrolls uninfected (“healthy”) volunteers, and therefore differs from research aimed at treating a disease or condition currently experienced by the trial participants
- Dependence on public and donor resources, so that large scale trials are often funded by wealthy countries while conducted in poorer, highly affected ones.
- Stigma and discrimination experienced by individuals and communities affected by HIV and AIDS
- The legacy of past exploitative research practices and lingering social injustices
Advocates for microbicides (and other HIV prevention research) can address these challenges by resolving thorny ethical dilemmas through broad-based, participatory dialogue and debate, and by promoting meaningful partnerships between communities and researchers.
A core goal of the Global Campaign for Microbicides was: “To ensure that as science proceeds, the public interest is protected and the rights and perspectives of trial participants, users and communities are fully represented and respected.”
The Global Campaign worked toward this goal through two complementary initiatives: