Luciana Kamel is a community educator and counselor at Laboratory of Clinical Research (LaPClin)/Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She currently supports HPTN 083 and HVTN 704/HPTN 085 (AMP), and is a community partners representative with the Office of HIV/AIDS Network Coordination (HANC). Luciana earned a Master of Science in Psycho-sociology and Community Social Ecology from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (UFRJ). She also received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from UFRJ and Bachelor of Arts in Law from the Estácio de Sá University in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
How did you first get involved with the HPTN?
I was invited to join the Fiocruz Community Advisory Board (CAB) in 2005 and since then I’ve been very involved in community engagement and education team activities. My active participation in the HPTN started with HPTN 052 as a CAB member. My contribution at that time was developing appropriate community engagement approaches so the community was well informed and had a common understanding of the study.
What do you find most challenging about the work you do in support of the HPTN?
I find the community concerns related to the vulnerability to HIV, the fear of stigma, prejudice, discrimination and exclusion related to HIV are current challenges to HIV education. We need to engage with the community to learn about any feelings they may have about HIV as part of the clinical research process. Consulting with the community about what they know, their thoughts, their attitudes on the issues and the barriers that exist to HIV prevention is unquestionable.
What do you think will change about HIV prevention over the next five years?
For the next five years, I believe we will increase community participation in the fight against the AIDS epidemic as well as scale-up effective packages of HIV prevention tools. These might include prevention counseling, condoms, treatment as prevention (TasP), access to post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and diversifying types of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) such as pills, broadly neutralizing antibodies infusions, injections and implants. Combination prevention approaches will increase options for prevention choices.
What do you wish other people knew about your work?
Working with local communities is a big learning experience. I am grateful for the work I have been doing because it’s a unique opportunity to learn the community needs, expertise and make sure their voice is heard. This experience has helped me gain constructive feedback that significantly enables me to build potential partnerships with the community in the prevention of HIV.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I enjoy writing poems as well as working as a photographer and editing videos. In addition, no one knows that I was actually born in the United States, but raised in Brazil where I have lived my entire life.
What do you do when you aren't working?
When I am not working, I enjoy running, swimming and cycling. I'm not a top athlete, but I have a lot of fun with my free time by getting active.