Summer recap and Community Engagement

By Bianka Northland / October 2, 2018

We owe a big shout out to our community engagement team for their hard work this past summer. The team (Jorge Benitez, Henry Peralta and Jackie Wu) are the liaison between our research unit and the community. This past summer, they were present at many events throughout the city to recruit and spread the word about the work we do. Community involvement is crucial to understanding how we can better promote HIV vaccine and prevention research and understand the evolving perception of HIV.

The team kicked off the summer with the AIDS Walk in late May. The CRU has walked as a team for the past eight years and we are typically joined by friends and study participants. Jorge shared that he loves participating in AIDS Walk NY because it creates an opportunity for younger people to understand how impactful having HIV is and plants an encouraging seed to join the prevention movement. “We don’t stand a chance against fighting HIV, if we don’t enlist younger people to take the reins.”

Throughout June, the team was present at Brooklyn Pride, Queens Pride, Harlem Pride and the NYC Pride March. At NYC Pride, we were joined by study participants and marched with STAR, Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, and FIERCE, which focuses on building the leader and power of LGBTQ youth of NYC. The team not only joins in the fun at these events, but also uses this time to educate about vaccine research and recruit potential study participants. The team met many people at the various Pride events that ended up coming in for HIV vaccine educational visits and enrolling into studies we participated in this summer.

When asked about his experience at Pride Jackie shared, “being a part of the LGBTQ+ community, HIV affects us more critically than our heterosexual brothers and sisters. In the community, we don’t hear much about HIV vaccine research. Being at pride events helps us increase visibility.”

You can catch Jackie and Henry every Tuesday afternoon at the Farmer’s Market on 168th and Fort Washington Avenue. Stop by, grab a free condom and learn a little bit more about the work we do!

We also have been quite busy in the clinic with two new studies we opened this summer. Stay tuned for future posts about life in the clinic and how Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies (bnABs) can be used for HIV prevention. In the meantime, we encourage you to read more about the HIV Vaccine Trials Network and its global impact on HIV prevention research.