What lessons it might teach us? Community engagement in HIV research

Curr Opin HIV AIDS. 2020 Mar;15(2):142-149. doi: 10.1097/COH.0000000000000605.


Purpose of review: Partnerships between academia and the community led to historic advances in HIV and paved the way for ongoing community engagement in research. Three decades later, we review the state of community engagement in HIV research, discuss best practices as supported by literature, explore innovations, and identify ongoing gaps in knowledge.

Recent findings: The community of people living with and at risk for HIV remains actively involved in the performance of HIV research. However, the extent of participation is highly variable despite long standing and established principles and guidelines of good participatory practices (GPP) and community-based participatory research (CBPR). Current literature reveals that known barriers to successful community engagement continue to exist such as power differences, and poor scientific or cultural competency literacy. Several high-quality studies share their experiences overcoming these barriers and demonstrate the potential of CBPR through reporting of qualitative and quantitative outcomes.

Summary: Greater time and attention should be placed on the development of community engagement in HIV research. A large body of literature, including innovative cross-cutting approaches, exists to guide and inform best practices and mitigate common barriers. However, we recognize that true growth and expansion of CBPR within HIV and in other fields will require a greater breadth of research reporting qualitative and quantitative outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Community-Based Participatory Research / standards*
  • HIV Infections*
  • Humans