Calvin Mbeda, a member of the HPTN 075 study team and study coordinator at the Kisumu CRS in Kisumu, Kenya, has supported HIV prevention research community efforts since 2010. His passion has been working with different populations, including adolescent girls and young women, men who have sex with men, female sex workers and people living with HIV/AIDS.
What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy the beginning of a study when the community anticipation gives us the extra push to implement successfully. Each time, it is a learning process as we listen to community members' thoughts and ideas. It makes the whole experience worthwhile knowing that the small role I play could someday change lives.
What would you say most motivates you to do what you do?
My motivation is driven by the possibility for a better tomorrow with options for HIV prevention. As the slogan goes, ‘prevention is better than cure.’
What has surprised you most about working in HIV prevention research?
Diversity. The fact that no single story is like the next and everyone comes with a unique story.
What has been one of your proudest moments as a member of the HPTN?
Coordinating HPTN 075 and successfully implementing it. Since men who have sex with men (MSM) are typically stigmatized in my community, carrying out the study was the highest point. This experience opened me to other opportunities in the research world and gave me much needed visibility and room for growth and writing my first peer-reviewed article.
What inspires you?
It is the hope that one day we will be able to prevent new HIV infections permanently, thus having a world free of HIV. Every step closer to the betterment of humanity is an inspiration to go the extra mile.
What has been the most unusual or interesting job you have ever had?
Working with the MSM communities has been the most exciting job that I have ever undertaken. Ensuring that this community had a safe space to access HIV prevention services was terrific and mind-boggling in a country where homosexuality is illegal.