The ACTG is committed to addressing challenges to ensure that populations that have historically been underrepresented in HIV clinical research are able to participate in and lead ACTG studies.
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 groups, women, transgender people (and other people with diverse sexual and gender identities), people who use drugs, people who face barriers to adherence, and people with disabilities. Committee members serve two-year terms after being nominated by their Clinical Research Site (CRS). The committee oversees the selection of candidates for the ACTG Minority HIV Investigator Mentoring Program and the James Hakim International HIV Investigator Mentoring Program (see below for more details).
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, 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 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 HIV cure strategies in women living with HIV over the 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 our inception and we currently have 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 was created in 1996 as an opportunity for U.S.-based junior investigators and based on its success, the James Hakim IHIMP expanded the program to support international investigators. (James Hakim, M.B.Ch.B. made significant contributions to mentoring junior HIV/AIDS researchers in Zimbabwe).
The MHIMP and IHIMP provide mentored opportunities for conducting advanced clinical research in the virology, immunology, pharmacology, or other aspects of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and TB for investigators from racial backgrounds that have historically been underrepresented in biomedical research. For the MHIMP, the term “underrepresented” applies to racial and ethnic groups that the National Institute of Health (NIH) describes as having been shown to be underrepresented in biomedical research, including American Indians or Alaska Natives, Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, Native Hawaiians, or other Pacific Islanders.
Both awards provide support and make mentorship available (awardees identify a mentor) to a junior investigator with a proven interest in conducting advanced clinical research in HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, or TB for two years.
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 a science committee that best fits their interests.
The 2023-2025 IHIMP awardees are Win Min Han, MD (Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre CRS) and Ronnie Kasirye M.B.Ch.B (MU-JHU Research Collaboration).
For questions or additional information, please contact Lisa Patton.