Despite initial hopes for a vaccine upon discovery of the HIV virus, the development of an HIV vaccine has been challenging. As the early search for one began, Bridge HIV participated in research that showed the significance of conducting HIV vaccine clinical trials in San Francisco.
From 1993 to 1997, Bridge HIV engaged in two clinical trial studies, the Jumpstart Study and the Vaccine Preparedness Study, which revealed new information about factors associated with higher risks for HIV transmission among gay and bisexual men. As a result of these studies, Bridge HIV became a clinical trials unit of the SFDPH AIDS Office. San Francisco is unique because it is the only Department of Public Health in the country to feature its own clinical trials unit.
In 1997, Bridge HIV participated in a clinical trials study that evaluated the safety of a “prime-boost” strategy, which employs a combination of vaccines to stimulate an immune response. This strategy continues to be researched today in our ongoing research. Two years later, Bridge HIV took an important step towards increasing the scope of its research across the globe.
In 1999, Bridge HIV joined the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), which is an important research collaborator that brings together international scientists, educators, and clinical trial sites in the search of an effective and safe HIV vaccine. Shortly after, we became a member of the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN), a global network of clinical sites dedicated to studying the safety and effectives of non-vaccine interventions, such as behavioral risk reduction and antiretroviral therapies.
In collaboration with HPTN, we conduct a number of clinical trials on non-vaccine biomedical interventions. These studies are primarily focused on the use of antiretroviral medications in HIV-negative individuals, known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), to prevent HIV infection. Currently, we have clinical trials evaluating the effectiveness of PrEP strategies, including HPTN 069 and Epic.