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Developing ethics guidance for HIV prevention research: the HIV Prevention Trials Network approach
  1. Stuart Rennie1,
  2. Jeremy Sugarman2
  1. 1Department of Social Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  2. 2Berman Institute of Bioethics and Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA


More than 25 years into the HIV epidemic, in excess of 2 million new infections continue to occur each year. HIV prevention research is crucial for groups at heightened risk for HIV, but the design and conduct of HIV prevention research with vulnerable populations worldwide raises considerable ethical challenges. The HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) is a global collaborative network that conducts clinical and behavioural studies on non-vaccine interventions to reduce the transmission of HIV. In 2003, the HPTN developed ethical guidance to enhance the responsible conduct of its research activities and as a distinctive contribution to global research ethics. In what follows, the developments that motivated the drafting of a revised ethics document in 2009 are described, including the process by which that revision took place and some of the key differences between the HPTN ethics guidance and other relevant guidelines in the field.

  • HIV infection and AIDS
  • policy guidelines/institutional review boards/review committees
  • position statements (of organisations/groups)

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  • For the HIV Prevention Trials Ethics Working Group

  • Funding Work on this document was supported by grant number U01 AI068619 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), with additional support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIAID, NIDA, NIMH, or the National Institutes of Health.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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