December 2001/January 2002
The Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), founded in 1993, and the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), launched in 1984, are the largest observational studies in women and homosexual or bisexual men in the United States. In the past, both studies have made vital contributions by increasing knowledge regarding HIV transmission, disease progression and treatment.
Changes in the HIV pandemic have occurred since these studies were launched. As a result, increasing participation in studies among minority populations has been recognized by The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
First, a disease that mostly affected homosexual, white males in the beginning has shifted into minority groups including men and women. Fifty percent of the newly infected men in the U.S. are black and 20 percent Hispanic; of newly infected women, 64 percent are black and 18 percent are Hispanic.
Second, highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART has dramatically improved the treatment of HIV disease in the developed world.
"We have new issues to address, such as the safety and benefits of long-term treatment, HIV's effects in older populations, and the nature of both the virus and the immune system during chronic infections," reports NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, M.D. "MACS and WIHS are ideal frameworks within which such questions can be answered."
Since the MACS and WIHS studies were established, both studies have lost many participants. Enrollment of minority groups will allow the cohorts to work with a population that represents the spectrum of HIV disease in the U.S.
MACS and WIHS track both HIV-infected and uninfected individuals. Currently, both studies are enrolling participants who are HIV-negative or HIV-positive and have never received treatment for HIV; or who are HIV-positive and have access to medical records since the time they began treatment. Participants who are receiving HAART cannot have a history of opportunistic infections. Both studies have sites in Los Angeles.
For information about the MACS study, call (310) 825-6229 or visit www.statepi.jhsph.edu/macs/macs.html. For information about WIHS, call Yvonne Barranday at (323) 343-8317 or visit https://statepiaps.jhsph.edu/wihs/.
|Liliana Eagan is a treatment advocate in AIDS Project Los Angeles Treatment Education Program. She can be reached at (213) 201-1484 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.|