Earlier this month we presented at a symposium of the HIV/AIDS Network Coordination Project’s (HANC) Communications Working Group. We asked Amy Ragsdale, HANC Special Projects Coordinator to tell us a little more about the Working Group and how they are using new media.
The HIV/AIDS Network Coordination (HANC) works with the six HIV/AIDS clinical trials networks funded by the Division of AIDS (DAIDS) of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) with the intent of creating a more integrated, collaborative and flexible research structure. The networks (ACTG, HPTN , HVTN, IMPAACT, INSIGHT, and MTN) are an affiliated group of national and international medical research institutions and investigators that conduct clinical HIV/AIDS research to develop safe and effective drugs, prevention strategies and HIV vaccines.
The mission of HANC is to support the science and operations of the networks by increasing efficiency and resource-sharing through coordination of critical activities across networks and with other research and advocacy partners. HANC has provided leadership and logistical support for cross-network coordination efforts since 2004. HANC works with over 700 collaborators and facilitates over 40 cross-network working groups.
The DAIDS networks manage complex HIV/AIDS clinical trials. Clinical research sites are located throughout the world and access to information technology varies widely. Given the far reach and complicated nature of their activities, the networks and HANC have recognized the importance of engaging communities through new media and social networking sites. Working groups were formed to consider the networks’ approaches to communications with community members, study participants, researchers, and the media.
HANC’s Communications Working Group includes network communications professionals, community liaisons, operations center staff, data managers, and web masters. Much attention has been paid to networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter; study results messaging; and understanding the networks’ respective communications strategies and policies. Participants share experiences with existing IT systems; discuss the advantages and challenges associated with emerging technologies; and consider the changing IT landscape and its implications in managing complex international HIV clinical trials.
Goals for the next year include: developing cross-network strategic message guidelines, offering recommendations for study results dissemination, and harmonizing network communications strategies and external relations policies. The HANC Communications Working Group will continue to invite key stakeholders, opinion-makers, and experts in the field to present on Working Group calls. Areas of expertise will include journalism, advocacy, blogging, and cultural anthropology.