The ACTG is working to address populations that have
historically been underrepresented in HIV clinical research.
Underrepresented Populations Committee
The Underrepresented Populations Committee promotes and monitors the clinical trial participation of groups traditionally underrepresented in clinical research and recommends strategies through which the ACTG Executive Committee can enhance the participation of these populations and minority investigators in HIV/AIDS research. The definition of underrepresented populations includes—but is not limited to—racial and ethnic minorities, women, transgender people (and other sexual and gender minorities), people who use drugs, people who face barriers to adherence, and people with disabilities. Membership in the committee is updated regularly and comprises elected members and representatives from other committees and stakeholders within the ACTG. The committee also oversees the selection of candidates for the ACTG Minority HIV Investigator Mentoring Program (MHIMP) and the James Hakim International HIV Investigator Mentoring Program (IHIMP).
Women’s Health Inter-Network Scientific Committee
Women represent large proportions, and in many regions of the world, a majority of people living with HIV infection. Yet, they are often underrepresented in HIV research. The Women’s Health Inter-Network Scientific Committee (WHISC) works to develop optimal strategies for the treatment of HIV disease and related complications among women. To this end, the WHISC develops studies that address scientific questions of high importance to the health of women living with HIV. It also seeks to optimize recruitment, retention, and sex-specific analyses of women in clinical trials. It advises the ACTG on clinical trial language and makes recommendations regarding reproductive, contraception, and pregnancy issues. It serves as a liaison with other networks, groups, and agencies involved in the care and treatment of women to enhance communication and avoid duplication in clinical trials. The committee also seeks to mentor junior faculty with careers directed at research into the health of women living with HIV. The current WHISC scientific agenda seeks to:
- Assess optimal therapy of HIV/AIDS, TB, hepatitis, and ‘cure’ strategies in women living with HIV over the course of their lifetime
- Identify critical drug-drug interactions between hormonal therapies and antiviral drugs, TB drugs, hepatitis treatment, and cure interventions in women living with HIV
- Determine sex differences in comorbidities (e.g., cardiovascular disease, depression, obesity, aging) and responses to their treatments in people living with HIV
Mentoring the next generation of HIV/AIDS researchers has been a priority for the ACTG since its inception. The ACTG has implemented two successful mentoring programs: the Minority HIV Investigator Mentoring Program (MHIMP) Award and the James Hakim International HIV Investigator Mentoring Program (IHIMP) Award. The MHIMP originally began as an opportunity for domestic junior investigators, and given its success, the James Hakim IHIMP was created to expand the program to support international investigators to participate in ACTG research and mentoring activities. The James Hakim IHIMP award was named to honor the memory of James Hakim, M.B.Ch.B. and the significant contributions he made to mentoring junior HIV/AIDS researchers in Zimbabwe. Both the MHIMP and IHIMP awards provide support and make mentorship available to a junior investigator with a proven interest in conducting advanced clinical research in an HIV/AIDS-related field for a period of two years.
The MHIMP and IHIMP provide mentored opportunities for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and tuberculosis research for investigators from racial backgrounds that are underrepresented in biomedical research. For the MHIMP, the term “underrepresented minority” applies to the following racial and ethnic groups that NIH states have been shown to be underrepresented in biomedical research: American Indians or Alaska Natives, Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, Native Hawaiians, or other Pacific Islanders). MHIMP and IHIMP awardees identify a mentor who will provide support across the duration of the award.
Within both programs, the ACTG provides financial support for both awardees and mentors. During the award period, awardees serve as members of the Underrepresented Populations Committee and on one of the science committees that best fit their interests. The applications for the next round of awards will be available around February 2023.
The 2021-2023 MHIMP and IHIMP awardees are George Yendewa, M.D., M.P.H., T.M., Case CRS and Pamela Grace Mukwekwerere, M.B.Ch.B., Milton Park CRS, respectively.
For questions or additional information, please contact Lisa Patton at firstname.lastname@example.org