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 ACTG 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 programs

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 Mentoring Program Award (MHIMP) and the International HIV Mentoring Program Award (IHIMP). The MHIMP aims to provide mentored opportunities for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and tuberculosis research for investigators from racial backgrounds that are underrepresented in biomedical research (American Indians or Alaska Natives, blacks, or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, Native Hawaiians, or other Pacific Islanders). MHIMP awardees identify a mentor who provides support across the duration of the award.

Given the success of the MHIMP at the domestic level, the ACTG expanded the program to support international investigators to participate in ACTG research and mentoring activities. This IHIMP award provides support and makes 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.

Within both programs, 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.