Christopher Blades, a member of the HVTN 703/HPTN 081 (AMP) and HPTN 083 community working groups, is the community program manager at UCLA’s Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine, housed at the UCLA Vine Street Clinic in Los Angeles. With a public health background, Christopher has worked for nine years educating communities to diminish mistrust and misconceptions about clinical research.
How did you first get involved with the HPTN?
I first got involved with the HPTN back in 2009 working as a peer health navigator for the HTPN 061 trial. In this role, I had the unique experience of developing personal relationships with participants enrolled in the study, helping them navigate the various complexities within the health care system.
What do you find most challenging about the work you do in support of the HPTN?
The most challenging part of my work is seeing a participant’s health deteriorate because of personal barriers preventing them from either accessing healthcare or staying engaged in healthcare.
What do you think will change about HIV prevention over the next five years?
There have been so many advancements in biomedical prevention over the last five years. I think investigators within the HPTN will continue to innovate and lead the HIV prevention field, getting the world closer to zero new HIV infections.
What do you wish other people knew about your work?
I wish people knew the amount of effort it takes for community educators to review/comprehend science-heavy research protocols and simplify the science in a way that community members can understand.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I am a great cook and an even better baker. My ultimate dream would be to own a small breakfast café, serving an assortment of pastries and espresso/coffee beverages.
What do you do when you aren't working?
I am a sports fanatic and love all dogs. I enjoy hiking, snowboarding, and bicycling with my partner, with our dog running alongside us. I also volunteer as an adoption counselor once a week at an animal rescue center.