HIV research, driven by scientific advances, is well known for rapid changes in its direction and areas of emphasis, while also reflecting shifts in the broader society in which the epidemic and its investigation takes place. As a major recorder of HIV research, JAIDS has also evolved. Given a surge of research aimed at the optimal application of research findings in resource-constrained settings, JAIDS has created a new pathway for publishing manuscripts in the field of implementation sciences and operational research (IOR). As IOR research disproportionately affects areas with limited access to print publications, JAIDS presents articles in this new section online to accelerate the benefits inherent in this burgeoning field. JAIDS similarly publishes letters online, thus providing more immediate commentary to previous manuscripts: correcting, clarifying, or expanding on author's conclusions. This evolution of our journal continues with 2 significant new initiatives, announced in this editorial. JAIDS is now providing the option of open access to manuscripts as they are accepted in revision and is strongly encouraging authors of clinical research to include details of gender and racial demographics to facilitate more diversity in subject inclusion and in the extension of results to important subpopulations.
Open access: The well-established world of “conventional” scientific journals like JAIDS has been challenged in recent years by an increasing number of “open access” publications. Access to articles in JAIDS is somewhat delayed for non-subscribers while open access journals provide immediate and free internet access to published manuscripts, with production costs paid by authors. Open access publications are often popular in resource-limited settings and in presenting findings with immediate impact, avoiding the time required to print manuscripts in a conventional journal. Both approaches, of course, have advantages. Publish Ahead of Print (PAP) is available for conventional journals as an option to publish content quicker, reducing the delay between acceptance and publication time. Open access journals avoid these delays and the ability to capture the content that is increasingly being mandated from various funding bodies, but at the author's expense.
JAIDS is moving to a new world of scientific publication in instituting a flexible open access publication option. Authors will be asked, as a manuscript is accepted in revision, if they prefer the conventional publication route or open access. If they wish for immediate Internet publication, they will be assigned a fee similar to open access journals. If they do not feel their results require immediate distribution (probably true for the majority of scientific publications), they can opt for the conventional approach with PAP in which their work will be widely available online before print publication without incurring this additional fee. JAIDS is excited to make this change, believing that it retains the advantages of both systems while responding to the opportunity provided for more immediate access to selected research reports.
Gender and racial demographic data: Many clinical trials, despite years of efforts to the contrary, fail to accrue a sufficiently diverse subject group to allow outcome comparisons based on gender or racial differences. In far too many cases, manuscripts do not include enough data to enable even an informal analysis of these outcomes. The absence of any data on gender- or racial-associated outcomes hides potentially important differences in treatment effects and toxicity; differences which, if reported, might drive subsequent investigation or affect the application of findings in the clinical context. Routine inclusion of this data might also motivate investigators and sponsors to, in fact, design trials that attract a more diverse sample, the best possible outcome. JAIDS has followed the leadership example of the International AIDS Society in addressing this unfortunate long-standing problem and thus hopes that we are a part of the solution. JAIDS is now including the following language in our instruction to authors:
Gender and Race: Submitting authors are strongly encouraged to include data disaggregated by sex (and, whenever possible, by race) and provide a comprehensive analysis of gender and racial differences. The authors should include the number and percentage of men, women, and, if appropriate, transgender persons who participated in the research study. Anatomical and physiological differences between men and women (height, weight, body fat-to-muscle ratios, cell counts, hormonal cycles, etc.), as well as social and cultural variables (socioeconomic, education, access to care, etc.), should be taken into consideration in the presentation of data and/or analysis of the results.
JAIDS is excited by our continued evolution. Even in our 25th year of publication, we seek to offer a flexible and rapid means to distribute important information and one that is sensitive and responsive to society in which HIV research takes place. Our Implementation and Operational Research section can hasten the application of research advances to real-world settings and our online letters allow immediate comments that can clarify the findings of recent publications. JAIDS new initiatives take our evolution even farther. Our Open Access Option facilitates immediate publishing of the article that is an author's priority while avoiding charging the majority of authors a publication fee. Our gender and race data policy allows much more information on treatment benefits and toxicity for important subgroups and will facilitate subsequent meta-analyses as more journals adopt similar recommendations. We trust that these changes will be noticed and appreciated by our authors and readers and as always JAIDS is eager for feedback. We look forward to the day when the end of the epidemic allows JAIDS to retire, but until then, we aim to make our journal the most responsive and authoritative means to communicate progress against the HIV/AIDS epidemic.