Juliane Etima, HPTN 084 and HPTN 111 study team member, is director of psychosocial support services at the MU-JHU Research Collaboration in Kampala, Uganda. She has extensive experience in the provision of social, emotional, and educational support and innovations for empowerment and equity for children, youth, women, and their families affected by HIV/AIDS. For the past 16 years, she has spearheaded the development and implementation of behavioral and qualitative research, including the HPTN 084-02 qualitative sub-study, where she is the MU-JHU site investigator of record.
What attracted you to a career in HIV prevention research?
I was attracted to a career in HIV prevention research with a specific interest in woman-controlled HIV prevention technologies because of the couple and relationship dynamics in Ugandan communities. These technologies empower women to protect themselves from HIV infection since women represent the largest group of new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa. As new HIV prevention technologies are researched, it is critical to understand more than the science; it's essential to know what the participants think and feel about these products because this influences both the choice and use of these products.
What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?
As a qualitative and behavioral researcher, I enjoy speaking with research participants to understand better and appreciate their concerns, fears, and challenges as they participate in HIV prevention research studies. Research participants are our most incredible resource as we conduct HIV prevention research, so understanding their fears and concerns is the least we can do to make their research experience worthwhile.
What would you say most motivates you to do what you do?
The fact that we are seeing a reduction in HIV seroprevalence and maintenance of low seroprevalence in countries or areas where there is a high prevalence gives me hope that with a concerted effort, we can end AIDS/HIV.
What has been one of your proudest moments as a member of the HPTN?
One of my proudest moments as a Network member was when an announcement on November 9, 2020, said HPTN 084 demonstrated the superiority of injectable cabotegravir compared to oral FTC/TDF for the prevention of HIV in cisgender women in sub-Saharan Africa. I was so proud to be part of the team that worked towards providing HIV prevention options for women, better still, a long-acting option, because it went a long way in addressing the burden of taking daily pills for HIV prevention.
What advice do you have for new HPTN members?
HPTN has several career development and growth opportunities, so new members should be proactive and look out for them, such as the HPTN Scholars program, submitting concepts for new research ideas or ancillary studies, publication opportunities, and excellent mentorship opportunities from HIV prevention researchers.
What volunteering or passion projects do you do outside of work?
I am a member of the Rotary Club of Kiwatule in District 9213 of Uganda. It gives me pleasure and satisfaction that I can serve humanity beyond the work I do in HIV prevention. Rotarians serve various underprivileged communities worldwide in seven focus areas: promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, saving mothers and children, supporting education, growing local economies, and protecting the environment.
I also love plants, especially flowers; my dream project is to have a garden where people can visit and enjoy different flower species. I have an unwavering love for orchids; I have over 40 orchids in my flower garden. I aspire to have over 200 orchids among other flower species.