Highlight: Building a strong future for African-led HIV prevention research

April 14, 2016

The search for an HIV vaccine is shifting from labs in North America and Europe, to include a greater number of African institutions. African researchers are leading the charge. Based in cities at the centre of the epidemic, they are familiar with the affected populations, and are best placed to conduct testing of HIV candidate vaccines. On February 16-18, 2015 researchers met in Johannesburg, South Africa, to discuss the role of African researchers in the battle against this epidemic. 

Afri-Can Forum 2

Grant recipients of the HIV/AIDS Prevention Trials Capacity Building Grants Phase 2 program met over three days to share results and lessons learned from the past five years. This program was supported by both IDRC and Global Affairs Canada (GAC). It was part of the larger Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative (CHVI), an initiative of the Government of Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. More than 140 participants attended the Afri-Can Forum 2, which also brought together recipients of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) HIV vaccine discovery grants, international and government agencies, and donors.

Among the results showcased, the Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative - Institute of Clinical Research (KAVI-ICR) was recognized as a world-class research institute and selected as an Ebola vaccine testing site and the World Health Organization’s African Centre in Gonococcal Antimicrobial Surveillance. The ADAPT2 (African Development of AIDS Prevention Trial capacity) team members published an article in Science on their efforts to train parliamentarians to use research evidence in decision-making. The event was a platform to demonstrate the strong collaborations between Canadian and African organizations advancing HIV prevention research.

Foundations of scientific discovery

Phase 2 of the HIV/AIDS Prevention Trials Capacity Building Grants supported nine teams working to strengthen research capacity for African-led HIV/AIDS prevention trials in sub-Saharan Africa. Teams worked to develop the ability of African researchers and institutions to carry out randomized controlled trials, which allow for rigorous testing of HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, including potential vaccines. More than 2,500 individuals were trained under the program in all aspects of HIV prevention trials, from scientific research to trial administration and management to communicating results.

Glenda Gray, president of the South African Medical Research Council, spoke about recent advances in HIV vaccine development, stating that although “current interventions can bend the HIV epidemic, only a vaccine can end it.”

Learn more about the HIV/AIDS Prevention Trials Capacity Building program and read tweets from the Forum (#AfriCan2).

Visit the website Afri-Can Forum 2

Learn more about the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative (CHVI)