Setting global research priorities for children and adolescents living with HIV

Why is it necessary to set research priorities?

Research prioritisation is a routine yet critical part of all policy development. Research undertaken should be responsive to gaps and needs, inform policy decisions, impact implementation and ultimately improve outcomes.

Despite the increased attention and commitment to the paediatric and adolescent HIV agenda, further efforts are required to ensure that evidence based interventions and policies comprehensively address their multiple needs. Funding for research in HIV is changing and is limited due to competing priorities; having research priorities helps to focus on maximizing available resources. For this, targeted evidence needs to be generated in an inclusive, transparent, and systematic way.

What are the goals of the research prioritization?

The Collaborative Initiative for Paediatric HIV Education and Research (CIPHER) at the International AIDS Society (IAS) and the Department of HIV at the World Health Organization (WHO) are undertaking a global research prioritization process on HIV testing, treatment, care and support for children and adolescents. Through broad engagement with diverse stakeholders this process will establish a shared global prioritized research agenda. This agenda will guide future research in this field, across both clinical and service delivery research.

The purpose of this process is to ensure high priority and quality research is carried out to inform global policy change and to ensure better outcomes for children and adolescents. Providing comprehensive and clear goals for future research will help streamline research in these fields and maximize available research resources.

What does the process entail?

The process will be based on the well-established Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) methodology. It will involve separate processes for children and adolescents and will be carried out in a phased approach.

Stakeholders will be invited to participate through multiple established list serves and targeted email outreach. Diverse stakeholders with experience in paediatric and adolescent HIV including researchers, programme managers, clinicians, implementers, community partners, advocates and young people, covering different epidemic and geographic settings, are encouraged to participate.

Via an online survey, stakeholders will be asked to suggest a number of research questions they feel are a priority. Those currently undertaking research or starting approved research will also be asked to provide basic information regarding their studies.

After consolidation of the submitted research questions, the same stakeholders, through a second online survey, will score the collated list of research questions/areas using prioritization criteria. The outcomes of the prioritization scoring/analysis as well as a summary of the ongoing and approved research will form the prioritized research agenda. 

The final prioritized research agenda will be disseminated through the engaged stakeholders, establish networks and platforms. This process will be overseen by a technical working group of members from IAS, WHO and experts in paediatric and adolescent HIV.