World AIDS Day 2023: Let Communities Lead

Read an essay by amfAR Board Member Phill Wilson in the UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report, Let Communities Lead, by clicking here.

Approximately 39 million people around the world are living with HIV/AIDS and, though progress has been made to deliver treatment and care to all and thwart stigma and discrimination, there’s still much more work to be done.

The theme for World AIDS Day 2023—“Let Communities Lead”—speaks to how this work is enriched immeasurably when affected communities are meaningfully involved in all aspects of living with HIV, from healthcare delivery to policy decisions to participation in clinical trials.

From the start, amfAR has been a leader in facilitating community participation in HIV research, establishing the nation’s first two community-based clinical trial units in New York City and San Francisco in 1988. The following year, amfAR awarded grants to 16 sites across the country to establish a nationwide community-based clinical trials network. The groundbreaking network showed that involving the HIV-positive community in clinical research expanded research capacity and expedited the drug approval process.

Outside of a clinic in the South African province of Guateng, a Ritshidze monitor interviews public healthcare users about service delivery. Photo by Rian Horn/Courtesy Ritshidze

Currently, amfAR supports community-led monitoring projects in South Africa, Haiti, Uganda, India, and Indonesia, among others, which allow local advocates to collect data about gaps in healthcare service delivery and advocate for change.

And amfAR’s biomedical research program—now squarely focused on curing HIV—supports scientists investigating different strategies across different populations in order to find cure interventions that work for everyone, everywhere.

For more about the work of amfAR, watch the video below.