Travis Love, a member of the HVTN 704/HPTN 085 (AMP) and HPTN 083 community working groups and HPTN Community Working Group Evaluation Committee, is a community educator for the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School Clinical Research Center in Newark, NJ. His position provides him the opportunity to communicate across disciplines, advocate for cultural competence within clinical spaces, and encourage community participation and feedback concerning clinical trials. By shifting the narrative, Travis has been able to foster meaningful relationships to celebrate those with devalued identities while promoting HIV prevention research studies. He was recently honored for his community engagement efforts at the 2019 Newark PROUD Awards.
How did you first get involved with the HPTN?
I first got involved with HPTN through the AMP study, recruiting and retaining clients and promoting the research site to stakeholders and community members in the greater city of Newark.
What do you find most challenging about the work you do in support of the HPTN?
The most challenging part of the work is establishing trust with communities who are underserved and vulnerable to HIV and at times resistant to HIV research; it can be difficult to communicate and raise awareness about research yet very much rewarding at the same time because we are creating spaces for dialogue so communities can have their questions and concerns addressed.
What do you think will change about HIV prevention over the next five years?
Over the next five years, I think there will be more options for people to prevent new infections in their communities. I also think there will be less stigma for people accessing preventive options.
What do you wish other people knew about your work?
I wish people knew how much their voices mattered and are needed to shift the narrative around HIV and research. Sometimes the stories we tell in our communities can either help or harm in the work of advocating for communities who could benefit from being engaged and informed.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
Some people might be surprised to know that I used to dance for a living.
What do you do when you aren't working?
When I am not working, I am going to an independent film or spending time with my family and friends on the New Jersey shore.