Researchers Admit to Fabricating Interviews for Study on HIV/AIDS Prevention Model for Teenagers
December 8, 2003
Three University of Maryland-Baltimore researchers have admitted that they fabricated interviews with teenagers for a study on HIV/AIDS prevention, which received more than $1 million in NIH funding in 1999, the Washington Times reports. Researchers Lajuane Woodard, Sheila Blackwell and Khalilah Creek, who were employed by the university's department of pediatrics, said that they made up some of the interviews for a study to evaluate an existing AIDS prevention model, called "Focus on Kids." The model is a "widely used" comprehensive sex education curriculum, according to the Times. The study, titled "Effectiveness of Standard Versus Embellished HIV Prevention," involved 817 African-American youths ages 12 to 16 and was originally published in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics by a group of nine researchers led by Ying Wu of West Virginia University. The study concluded that youth whose families participated in the Focus on Kids program showed "significantly lower rates" for several HIV risk behaviors, including sex without condoms and cigarette and alcohol use, according to the Times. The editors of Pediatrics on Thursday said that they were investigating the claims of fabrication.
No Room for Interest Groups
Many researchers and some Democrats, including Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), have criticized Republicans' examination of such studies (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/30). In response to the TVC list, Waxman in October sent a letter to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson stating, "Imposing ideological shackles on this research would be a serious public health mistake." In the Dec. 4 issue of the New England Journal of Public Health, NEJM Editor Jeffrey Drazen said that such scrutiny from Congress could turn sexual health research into a "political football" (Washington Times, 12/5). When grants are awarded following the peer-review process, researchers should then be "left to focus on their work and should not be diverted by wasting time responding to the whims of interest groups," Drazen wrote (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/4). However, Souder said that the admissions of fabrication by the Maryland researchers show the importance of congressional oversight. "This scandal underscores the need for oversight of all federal programs -- even NIH -- to ensure taxpayer dollars are not misspent and science is not manipulated," Souder said (Washington Times, 12/5).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.