Nelecy Chome

Nelecy Chome RNM, MPH, an HPTN 084 Community Working Group member, is a community activities coordinator at the University of North Carolina Project in Lilongwe, Malawi. In addition to supporting several HPTN studies, Chome has worked with the Adult Clinical Trials Group (ACTG), HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), and Microbicide Trials Network (MTN). She began her healthcare career 17 years ago as a nurse. Chome also worked as a field workers’ coordinator in a malaria vaccine trial.

What attracted you to a career in HIV prevention research? 

I was attracted to a career in HIV prevention research because I wanted to contribute to finding the best ways of reducing HIV transmission while reaching people with less knowledge of the research being done to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS.

What would you say most motivates you to do what you do? 

I feel motivated when the studies being conducted positively impact the people in our country because I know that if effective preventive measures are found, people can choose to take steps to protect themselves from acquiring HIV.

What has been one of your proudest moments as a member of the HPTN? 

My proudest moment as a member of the HPTN was when the HPTN 052 study, which established that antiretroviral treatment in people who are living with HIV, decreases the likelihood of transmitting HIV to their sexual partners, resulted in the World Health Organization updating its guidelines. Our country, Malawi, introduced a test and treatment program following the groundbreaking results of HPTN 052.

What has been the biggest challenge working in HIV prevention research? 

The biggest challenge working in HIV prevention research has been retaining participants due to relocations. Some participants are very mobile, so they require extra effort to keep them until the end of a study. Research misconceptions by some community members are also a significant challenge that complicates the recruitment and retention of study participants.

What advice do you have for new HPTN members?

Introduce new and innovative ideas to the good practices already in place so we can eradicate HIV once and for all.

What volunteering or passion projects do you do outside of work?

I am the technical chairperson for a Catholic women's organization. I help with planning, organizing, and implementing activities at my parish. I am also engaged in community social welfare activities. I also like farming on our family farm, where we grow food for personal consumption and sale