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New York Times Examines Controversy Surrounding, History of AIDS Drug Trials Involving Foster Children

July 18, 2005

The New York Times on Sunday examined the history of and the controversy surrounding HIV/AIDS drug clinical trials in the 1990s that included foster children, many of whom were black or Latino and poor. The debate centers on whether researchers gained proper permission for the children's inclusion in the studies from their guardians or biological parents. Investigations into the drug trials are being conducted despite the fact that there is "little evidence that the trials were anything but a medical success," according to the Times. The controversy has arisen from a single accusation of abuse from one person who posted a story on the Internet without names or official documentation, demonstrating "the power of a single person armed only with access to the Internet and an incendiary story to put major institutions on the defensive," the Times reports. In addition, the situation "taps a combustible mix of fears," including claims that HIV does not cause AIDS and that antiretrovirals do not successfully treat the disease, as well as the belief among some black people that the medical establishment does not consider their best interests, according to the Times (Scott/Kaufman, New York Times, 7/17). HHS' Office for Human Research Protections in May found that two hospitals involved in the studies -- Columbia University Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital -- violated federal regulations in at least four drug studies involving foster children. New York City's Administration for Children's Services has hired the Vera Institute of Justice to investigate the charge that the city inappropriately allowed foster children to participate in the trials (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/17).

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