Pongpun Saokhieo, a member of the HPTN 083 study team and community working group, is a study coordinator and community educator at the Chiang Mai HIV Prevention Clinical Research Site (CRS) in Thailand. She has supported HIV research trials through multiple networks for more than 18 years.
What attracted you to a career in HIV prevention research?
HIV was first reported in Thailand more than 30 years ago. I wanted to make a difference in the fight against HIV, so I started working more than 20 years ago as part of a community outreach team for a study among people living with HIV who inject drugs. In 2003, I became part of the HPTN for my work supporting HPTN 037.
What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy having contact with community members. I like sharing and exchanging experiences during my many engagements. Learning opinions and getting feedback are particularly important for conducting successful HIV prevention research studies.
What has surprised you most about working in HIV prevention research?
Having the opportunity to work with so many dedicated and supportive colleagues and study participants.
What has been the biggest challenge working in HIV prevention research?
For the past ten or so years, Thailand PrEP studies have been quite challenging when it came to building trust and gaining acceptability from potential study participants. To overcome these challenges, the Chiang Mai CRS outreach team provided helpful information and worked hard to find appropriate methods for reaching the community.
What inspires you?
Accomplishing complex research studies and seeing them through to the end.
What advice do you have for new HPTN members?
Working in HIV prevention research is not an easy task, but HPTN is a big family with warmth and kindness. They are ready to support its members. So, please continue your effort and you will achieve a very fulfilling and challenging career in HIV prevention research.