The MTN Annual Meeting was held March 19-20 in Bethesda, Maryland at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Cen-ter. The meeting featured ASPIRE dapivirine vaginal ring study participant Ruth Nahurira from Kampala, Uganda, who described her moving experience using the ring, which was met with a standing ovation. Ruth explained that being a trial participant made her “life shine” because she no longer had to compromise and had something that was truly hers. She described being empowered by her experience with the ring and inspired to enroll into the university.
The meeting also included an update on MTN’s rectal microbicide agenda, featuring a panel discussion on the perspectives of youth and transgender people on HIV prevention products, who were passionate about the need for options in HIV prevention that enable people to pick and choose what works best for them. These and other MTN Annual Meeting presentation slides are available on MTN’s web-site.
One day prior to the meeting, MTN also pilot tested a new transgender training tool developed by the DAIDS Cross Network Transgender Working Group. During the training session, presenters Tori Cooper and Melissa Murry took attendees through the first two modules of the training curriculum, An Introduction to Transgender Communities and Creating A Gender-Affirming HIV Research Environment.
At the start and closing of the meeting, a touching tribute was made to Charlene Dezzutti, MTN’s PI of the Network Laboratory, who passed away just prior to the meeting. In the words of MTN’s PI Sharon Hillier, “Charlene was a key member of the MTN family, leading the development of the MTN from its earliest stages. She developed and led the laboratory structures which have successfully supported the many clinical trials conducted by us over the past 12 years. It is impossible to express what Charlene’s life and career meant to all of us. The greatest tribute we can give to Charlene would be to remain steadfast in our shared commitment to prevent HIV. She was passionate about the work and the people we serve in communities so impacted by HIV.”