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U.S. News

7,000 Gay Men Help Study AIDS

October 5, 2009

Launched in 1984 before there was a test for HIV, the Multicenter AIDS Study (MACS) began seeking gay men to participate in a study of this new disease. Since then, more than 7,000 men who have sex with men (MSM) recruited from four MACS cities have participated in the study, undergoing physicals twice a year and answering thorough questions about their sexual life and HIV precautions. Today, about 2,525 MSM are enrolled -- other participants have died or dropped out -- and new volunteers are periodically recruited.

Researchers have mined data from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' (NIAID) study for more than 1,000 published papers. The data have led to critical discoveries such as identifying behaviors that transmit the virus and the median time from infection to AIDS. MACS data have informed public health campaigns and, as treatments helped the infected men live longer, allowed scientists to study the long-term impact of living with HIV.

"It has been extraordinary, the amount of knowledge [MACS] has provided for us," said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, NIAID's director.

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"This long-standing, very large, very detailed repository of information is of great value to us," said Judith Auerbach, vice president for science and public policy at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

"We felt a sense of mission," said Walter Smalling, a MACS volunteer since the early 1980s. "We were all scared back then. In the beginning, it was a death sentence. Nothing could be done." Participants "made those appointments and kept them because they felt it was important," he added. Having lost more than 100 friends and acquaintances to AIDS, Smalling hopes his contribution might help in finding a cure.

Back to other news for October 2009

Adapted from:
Washington Post
09.29.2009; Lori Aratani


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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