Drs. Hightow-Weidman and Hosek have a leadership vision, honed through decades of prior ATN and clinical trials experiences, that aims to foster scientific innovation and effectiveness through flexibility, open communication, mutual respect, collective problem solving, and shared accountability. We are keenly aware of the opportunity that we have been given to serve young people at risk for or living with HIV, but also of our responsibility to do this work with transparency.
Why is transparency important?
Full transparency allows youth and other interested people to provide input regarding the planned studies early in the process. Explaining at the beginning what our studies aim to do and how and when we will decide if our interventions work keeps us accountable to our scientific approach. As leaders of the ATN, we have a firm commitment to ensuring that ATN resources (both financial and participant time) are being used to make an impact on the HIV epidemic and the communities we serve. For the research community, sharing research materials allows our work to be evaluated in detail in an unbiased way, reduces the need for others to develop similar tools (like questionnaires and programmatic materials) from scratch, and increases the chance that different studies can measure outcomes and exposures in similar ways – allowing us to combine results of many studies that used common measures.
How will the ATN promote transparency?
- Multiple levels of information will be available on the ATN website, including protocol abstracts, full protocol documents, data collection tools, study team rosters and study site locations.
- We will be including youth in various ways across the ATN. Each ATN site has as active Youth Advisory Board (YAB) that learns about the protocols and helps us think about how to implement them most effectively. In addition, a National Youth Council, made up of members from each of the YAB, will meet regularly to discuss the overall research agenda of the ATN. Finally, every protocol team will have youth members from the Subject Matter Research Consultants group.
- Publicly available tools, such as ClinicalTrials.gov will be used to describe our studies and update results. This website includes specific details about participant eligibility criteria, the interventions and how we plan to test and evaluate them, as well as the results once available.
- We will publish process papers and results from our work in academic journals, particularly journals that make free and open access available to all interested parties, even those who may not have academic subscriptions to allow viewing journal materials. We will also present findings at scientific conferences. We will make links from all public presentations and manuscripts available on the ATN website.
- As we learn information from our trials, we will use multiple methods to make the results of studies available to both the youth community and the public at large.
- We will make our study data collection materials available to those who are interested in public forums, such as the ATN website, but also by encouraging people to reach out directly to our study teams.
The important work of the ATN represents a substantial investment of public funds. We take seriously our obligations to both conduct high quality research, and to do so in a way that is transparent to all interested parties. If you have questions about our protocols or need additional information about any of the studies that we are conducting, the easiest way to learn more is to first read the study descriptions on the ATN website. If you want more information, please reach out to us directly. Only through transparency and true collaboration will we advance the field of HIV prevention and treatment science and harness our collective efforts toward ending the HIV epidemic among youth.