Social Impacts Among Participants in HIV Vaccine Trial Network (HVTN) Preventive HIV Vaccine Trials

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2020 Aug 15;84(5):488-496. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000002369.


Background: Given the persistent stigma and discrimination against HIV worldwide, preventive HIV vaccine trials face unique challenges. Negative social impacts (NSIs)-problems that HIV vaccine trial participants face in many different spheres of their lives related to trial participation-have received a great deal of attention. Beneficial social impacts (BSIs)-perceived benefits experienced by a participant and resulting from their trial participation-are a critical component of participants' experiences, yet they have received little attention.

Setting: All HIV Vaccine Trials Network trial participants for whom social impact data were available-8347 participants in 13 countries who enrolled in 48 phase 1, 2a, and 2b trials.

Methods: A cross-protocol analysis to assess self-reported BSIs and NSIs related to participating in a preventive HIV vaccine trial. Data were obtained from 48 completed HIV Vaccine Trials Network vaccine trials from December 2000 to September 2017.

Results: Overall, 6572 participants (81%) reported at least one BSI, and 686 participants (8%) reported 819 NSI events. Altruism/feeling good helping others was the BSI most often endorsed by study participants (43%), followed by receiving risk-reduction counseling (30%). Most NSI events (81%) were reported by US/Swiss participants, and most (79%) trial-related NSIs were negative reactions from friends, family, and partners. Of the NSIs reported, 7% were considered to have a major impact on the participant's quality of life.

Conclusion: Our results underscore the relatively common experiences of BSIs among preventive HIV vaccine trial participants and mirror the results of other studies that find infrequent reports of NSIs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Vaccines / immunology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Altruism
  • Counseling
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Social Change*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult


  • AIDS Vaccines