DURHAM, N.C. – Drs. Myron S. Cohen and Wafaa M. El-Sadr, principal investigators of the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN), in collaboration with FHI 360, have received a seven-year award from the U.S. National Institutes of Health as part of the next funding cycle (2020-2027) for the Network. The core and protocol-specific funding will enable the HPTN to continue its HIV prevention research efforts focused on developing new biomedical prevention methods and optimizing the integration of proven biomedical, behavioral and structural interventions to achieve high-effectiveness and impact.
During this new funding cycle, the HPTN will focus on the following four priority areas:
- Identifying novel antiretroviral (ARV)-based methods and delivery systems for HIV prevention
- Developing multi-purpose technologies for HIV prevention as well as for contraception and prevention of other sexually transmitted infections
- Evaluating broadly neutralizing antibodies alone or in a combination that prevent HIV acquisition, in collaboration with the HIV Vaccine Trials Network
- Designing and conducting population-specific integrated strategy studies that combine biomedical, socio-behavioral, and structural interventions for HIV prevention to maximize their effectiveness
The HPTN will also continue as a partner in the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN). The recently-formed CoVPN evaluates biological agents, including vaccines and monoclonal antibodies, to prevent COVID-19.
“In the absence of an HIV vaccine, effective non-vaccine prevention tools and strategies have become critically important,” said Dr. Cohen, HPTN principal investigator and director of the Institute for Global Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “This tenet is at the core of the HPTN’s mission, moving forward research to identify biomedical interventions and integrated strategies that help reduce the global incidence of HIV.”
Recognizing the challenges of long-term adherence to daily oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the HPTN has intensely pursued research to evaluate the safety and efficacy of long-acting injectable cabotegravir (CAB LA) for PrEP. Future approaches may include the use of implants, patches, and microneedles to deliver CAB LA and/or other long-acting ARVs. Combining ARV-based prevention tools that protect against HIV acquisition with efficacious contraceptive agents is compelling for persons who desire contraception and HIV prevention. Combinations of monoclonal antibodies will be evaluated for their potential to prevent HIV acquisition.
“We recognize that demonstrating the efficacy of a new agent is the first step in a critical research trajectory,” said Dr. El-Sadr, HPTN principal investigator, director of ICAP, and professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University in New York. “Achieving impact requires reaching and engaging diverse populations and achieving high uptake and adherence with prevention methods, compelling the need for integration of biomedical with behavioral and structural interventions.”
FHI 360, a nonprofit human development organization, has been the leadership and operations center for the HPTN for more than 15 years and will continue to serve that role. FHI 360 is based in Durham, NC.
“FHI 360 is committed to HIV prevention efforts as we all work towards reducing the rate of new HIV infections in populations deemed at greatest risk around the world,” said Dr. Nirupama Sista, director of the HPTN Leadership and Operations Center at FHI 360.
About the HPTN
The HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) is a worldwide collaborative clinical trials network that brings together investigators, ethicists, community members, and other partners to develop and test the safety and efficacy of interventions designed to prevent the acquisition and transmission of HIV. The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, Office of The Director, the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, all part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, co-fund the HPTN. The HPTN has collaborated with more than 85 clinical research sites in 19 countries to evaluate new HIV prevention interventions and strategies in populations with a disproportionate HIV burden. The HPTN research agenda – more than 50 trials ongoing or completed with over 161,000 participants enrolled and evaluated – is focused primarily on discovering new HIV prevention tools and evaluating integrated strategies, including biomedical interventions combined with behavioral risk reduction interventions and structural interventions. For more information, visit hptn.org.