The 2022 Robert Carr Research Award was presented to the BIENVENIR research project during the just concluded AIDS 2022 global conference in Montreal Canada. The project is a partnership between Colombia’s Corporacion Red Somos and John Hopkins School of Public Health.
The Robert Carr Research Award, organized by the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO) and supported by the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and the International AIDS Society (IAS), is given annually to a research project conducted by a partnership between a Community Based Organisation and an academic institution and seeks to honour the contribution of the late Dr. Robert Carr to the global HIV response.
ICASO Executive Director Mary Ann Torres says the award honours and celebrates everything about Robert’s vision. “We made a commitment back in 2011 to give this award to celebrate the fact that Robert stood for always having full partnership between academia and community and he also believed that advocacy should be based on evidence. That is why giving this research award each year is so important,” said Torres.
This year’s winning research project showcased an innovative and holistic approach to HIV care. The approach was created by Corporacion Red Somos and focused on ensuring the well-being of Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Colombia. The study’s findings will also be used to inform national HIV and humanitarian policies and programming for Venezuelans residing in Colombia.
One of the major factors which contributed to the success of the BIENVENIR project was the fact that the project’s design combined HIV care navigation with legal services which provided a human rights-centered approach to the HIV care continuum that can serve as a model in other humanitarian contexts.
“It was very important for a project to highlight what Venezuelans are going through in their country and the reason they have to leave. The interesting thing about this project is that even though they’re collecting data about prevalence to see if there is a specific need within the HIV response, they’re also using the opportunity to link people to care,” said Torres
Meanwhile CVC Executive Director, Ivan Cruickshank, in congratulating the awardees, noted the importance of research in advocacy. “I want to wholeheartedly congratulate Corporacion Red Somos and John Hopkins School of Public Health on winning this 2022 Robert Carr Research Award. The award is a testament to the importance of the work both organizations have done to understand and address the needs of the Venezuelan migrant and refugee communities in Colombia. I’m also pleased that the research’s findings will be used to influence future policy. These types of research are crucial to help ensure that our advocacy efforts are data driven and guided by the community,” he said.
In the meantime, ICASO is committing to keep the award going for the foreseeable future.
“We will continue to make this award in the AIDS conference to celebrate Robert and ensure that people who didn’t know him know about him,” noted Torres.