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A Comprehensive Look at Clinical Trials


Thinking About Participating in a Clinical Trial

There are many reasons to think about joining a clinical trial. When you are deciding whether or not a trial is right for you, consider some of the risks and benefits.

Some Possible Benefits

  • Access to Medications That Are Not FDA-Approved
    You may have already tried every available anti-HIV medication. If your viral load is high and your T-cell count is low, a clinical trial can help you gain access to an experimental medication that may keep your HIV infection from getting worse. The experimental medication might lower your viral load, raise your T-cell count, and improve your health.

  • Increased Care
    You may usually receive your care in a large clinic or see a doctor with many patients. As a result, you may not have as much one-on-one time with your doctor as you'd like. When you get involved in a clinical trial, you develop a relationship with the research team (the doctors and nurses running the trial). You may benefit from having more health professionals involved in your HIV care. The research team can be a great resource for questions about HIV infection.

    Your regular doctor will continue to supervise your care while you are in the trial. The trial staff will coordinate with your doctor and will send him or her your lab results so that you won't need to have tests repeated.


  • Helping Others
    Some people decide to join a clinical trial because they want to help others with HIV. Joining a clinical trial contributes to the development of new medications and strategies to treat HIV and HIV-related infections.

Some Possible Risks

  • Safety Concerns
    The medication may cause bad side effects. Phase I trials are riskiest, because there is no safety information available. If you are resistant to all available anti-HIV treatments and have no treatment options, you might be willing to participate in a Phase I study. On the other hand, if you have never taken HIV medications before and have many treatment options, you might choose a lower-risk Phase II or Phase III study.

  • Health Concerns
    You may have to stop taking your current anti-HIV medications to participate in a trial. This could cause your HIV infection to progress more rapidly.

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This article was provided by AIDS Community Research Initiative of America. Visit ACRIA's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.