Accountability is essential to community engagement. Participants and the general community have a right to know how and why HIV vaccine trials happen in their communities. Accountability is expected from trial conception through to its design, implementation, result dissemination and post-trial access.
Community engagement should begin at the conceptualisation of trial design. Researchers, scientists and trial networks must ensure diverse representation of communities to be engaged in the research are involved in the decision-making process about the trial design. Documentation of consensus reached is important to enable advocates to track events.
The VARG intends to secure copies of trial protocols
and make summary of the document available to communities via its website and partners. The VARG regards the access to information about the trial protocol as a right of communities to facilitate communities’ agency and ability to understand the complexities of a trial, should they be given the opportunity. The VARG and its partners shall also monitor events at trial sits to ensure the ethical conduct of HIV vaccine research.
The VARG considers engagement that happens post trial to be as crucial as the engagement that happens pre-trial. Communities will be kept aware of post-trial events of research conducted in their countries. The VARG shall follow up to facilitate post-trial access of trial participants to care and HIV prevention options.