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Commentary & Opinion
Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Opinion Pieces on NIH-Funded AIDS Drug Trials Involving Foster Children

May 13, 2005

Researchers who conducted NIH-funded HIV/AIDS drug trials involving hundreds of HIV-positive foster children often did not appoint independent advocates for the children, despite policies requiring the assignments, according to a review of the studies conducted by the Associated Press. The studies tested AIDS-related medication in hundreds of HIV-positive foster children, allowing the children to receive treatment from top researchers but also exposing them to the risks of research and potentially serious side effects of the trial drugs. The research among foster children was most widespread in the 1990s and was conducted in at least seven states, including Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina and Texas. More than 48 HIV/AIDS-related drug studies involved foster children, most of whom were poor or minorities and ranged in age from infants to late teens, according to government records and interviews. In several of the studies, foster child participants reported side effects, including vomiting, rashes and rapid declines in their CD4+ T cell counts. Some children died during the studies, although state or city agencies could not find evidence that any of the children's deaths were caused by the experimental drugs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/5). Several newspapers recently have published editorials on the issue. Some of these are summarized below.

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