Community Research Town Hall

Centering Health Equity:

Seeking Community Perspectives for Transformative HIV Research

Friday, May 3 from 9:00 am - 2:30 pm


Community Research Town Hall Overview


On May 3, 2024, ACTRI and the San Diego Center for AIDS Research (SD CFAR) co-sponsored the Centering Health Equity: Seeking Community Perspectives for Transformative HIV Research Community Town Hall. The overarching goal of the Community Town Hall was to strengthen the partnership between researchers and the community, ensuring that research efforts are relevant, impactful, and aligned with the local community’s values and needs.

The Planning Committee was led by the SD CFAR Health Equity Sociobehavioral Science Core leadership, Co-Directors Drs. Jamila Stockman and Eileen Pitpitan and Leadership Trainee Dr. Chadwick Campbell, and SD CFAR Health Equity Community Advisory Board Co-Chairs Danielle Campbell and Wanda London. The full-day event was held at Park & Market in Downtown San Diego and live, simultaneous Spanish translation was provided.

The Community Reseach Town Hall brought together researchers, service providers, healthcare professionals, and community members from the San Diego and Tijuana region to collaboratively identify priorities and advance a community-driven HIV research agenda. Participants engaged in vibrant, synergistic discussions around best practices for collaboration, identification of unmet needs and strategies to bridge disparities in research, and ideas to support building capacity in communities.

The agenda included a brief presentation on health equity and health disparities to set the stage for the day. That session was followed by a community member panel where panelists discussed their experiences with research as well as gave feedback on priority research topics and best practices for collaboration. Researchers and community partners shared lightning-round presentations on three current SD CFAR research projects and participated in a subsequent panel discussion to share key insights and what work still needs to be done. The day concluded with a 90-minute facilitated Community Wisdom and Vision session which provided an open forum for discussion on priority research topics, sharing ideas for addressing health disparities and promoting and fostering health equity, suggestions for addressing barriers, and recommendations for building meaningful partnerships.

Key Findings and Recommendations


  • Engagement in HIV research has been a tool of empowerment for many living with or impacted by HIV.

    Participation in research can provide key insights into personal health status, access to resources, and education that benefits the individual and the wider community.



  • Approach to HIV research and care should be whole-body focused and address issues such as aging, comorbidities, and the unique needs of the target population.



  • Many persistent barriers to care and research participation remain unchanged, including childcare, access to transportation, geographic locations of care/research facilities, and the overall time-intensive nature of engaging in care/research.


  • Fair compensation for participation in research is key.

    Partner with the community to determine what compensation is most meaningful and in what form it should come. Compensation should consider more than just the time it takes to engage in the specific research activity.


  • There is a significant need for resources, care, and research access in rural communities and the South Bay and East County areas of San Diego near the border of Mexico.


  • A Spanish-language centered community forum is essential to engaging the communities in the South Bay, and East County, and border regions of San Diego.


  • There is enthusiasm for establishing an interdisciplinary network of local HIV research, service, and healthcare-oriented organizations.

    A quarterly meeting of this network will improve collaboration and resource sharing with the aim of achieving optimal outcomes for individuals living with and affected by HIV in the San Diego region.


  • Report back to participants/communities engaged in the research in a timely manner.

    It was shared that this step is often missed. Permission to follow up with study results should be integrated into the Informed Consent. Share preliminary findings/results with participants at the earliest feasible opportunity. Waiting for the full peer review process can delay meaningful implementation in impacted communities.


  • Researchers should engage community-based organizations (CBOs) early and in the project development stage.

    Early engagement is key for success, as needs and methods for a particular community/CBO may not be congruent with what was outlined in the grant. Enlisting a CBO after funding has been awarded is not optimal, as community and organizational needs are often not adequately factored into existing projects.


  • Build capacity for serving migrant communities, particularly for Haitian immigrants and providing resources in Haitian-Creole.


  • Establish resources to better enable the community and CBOs to approach researchers with ideas and to share opportunities for collaboration.


  • Employ Language Justice principles by taking care to properly translate materials and not rely on automated internet tools.


  • Invest resources and create mentorship opportunities to build a diverse pool of investigators, study coordinators, and a new pipeline of leaders.


  • Researchers and study facilitators should focus on forming relationships and have a consistent, physical presence in recruitment efforts and implementation.


  • Research opportunities should be expanded outside of central San Diego.

    Impacted communities that are geographically distant or rural (e.g., South Bay, Campo, Boulevard) do not have equitable access to participate in research.


  • Research opportunities and care should be offered outside standard business hours to improve access to individuals with work and family commitments.


Click here to view the full Community Research Town Hall Summary Report


Event Agenda


Agenda Item

9:00 am


9:30 am

Welcome and Opening Remarks

9:40 am

What is Health Equity?

9:50 am

Community Panel: Identifying Health Priorities

Panelists will discuss their experiences with research in their communities, give feedback on research topics they would like to see conducted, and share recommendations for best practices for collaborative partnerships between researchers and the community.

10:45 am Break
11:00 am

Science Spotlights with Community Partners

Presentations of SD CFAR research projects conducted in collaboration with community partners. Presenters will discuss key findings, take-home messages, and what work still needs to be done.

11:45 am Lunch and Networking
12:30 pm

Facilitated Community Wisdom and Vision Discussion Session

Focus on ideas for addressing health disparities and promoting and fostering health equity. Open discussion with attendees to share feedback on priority research topics, suggestions for addressing barriers, and recommendations for building meaningful partnerships.

2:00 pm Concluding Remarks and Next Steps



Questions? Contact

At a Glance