What Is a Clinical Trial?
A clinical trial is a research study done to evaluate new medical approaches in people. New approaches can include:
- new medicines or new combinations of medicines
- new surgical procedures or devices
- new ways to use an existing medicine or device
Clinical trials are the fastest way to determine whether new medical approaches are safe and effective in people.
What Is an HIV/AIDS Clinical Trial?
HIV/AIDS clinical trials help researchers find better ways to prevent, detect, or treat HIV/AIDS. All the medicines used to treat HIV/AIDS in the United States were first studied in clinical trials.
Examples of HIV/AIDS clinical trials under way include:
- studies of new medicines to treat HIV
- studies of vaccines to prevent or treat HIV
- studies of medicines to treat infections related to HIV
Can Anyone Participate in an HIV/AIDS Clinical Trial?
It depends on the study. Some HIV/AIDS clinical trials enroll only people who have HIV. Other studies include people who don't have HIV.
Other factors such as age, gender, HIV treatment history, or other medical conditions may also restrict who can participate in an HIV/AIDS clinical trial.
What Are the Benefits of Participating in an HIV/AIDS Clinical Trial?
Participating in an HIV/AIDS clinical trial can provide benefits. For example, many people participate in HIV/AIDS clinical trials because they want to contribute to HIV/AIDS research. They may have HIV or know someone who has HIV.
People with HIV who participate in an HIV/AIDS clinical trial may benefit from new HIV medicines before they are widely available. HIV medicines being studied in clinical trials are called investigational drugs. To learn more, read the AIDS_info_ What is an Investigational HIV Drug? fact sheet.
Participants in clinical trials can receive regular and careful medical care from a research team that includes doctors and other health professionals. Often the medicines and medical care are free of charge.
Sometimes people get paid for participating in a clinical trial. For example, they may receive money or a gift card. They may be reimbursed for the cost of meals or transportation.
Are HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials Safe?
Researchers try to make HIV/AIDS clinical trials as safe as possible. However, volunteering to participate in a study that is testing an experimental treatment for HIV can involve risks of varying degrees. Risks can include unpleasant, serious, or even life-threatening side effects from the treatment being studied.
In a process called informed consent, study volunteers are informed of the possible risks and benefits of a clinical trial. Understanding the risks and benefits helps volunteers decide whether to participate in the study.
If I Decide to Participate in a Clinical Trial, Will My Personal Information Be Shared?
The privacy of study volunteers is important to everyone involved in an HIV/AIDS clinical trial. The informed consent process includes an explanation of how a study volunteer's personal information is protected.
How Can I Find an HIV/AIDS Trial in Which to Participate?
To find an HIV/AIDS clinical trial looking for volunteers, use the AIDS_info_ clinical trial search. For help with your search, call an AIDS_info_ health information specialist at 1-800-448-0440 or email ContactUs@aidsinfo.nih.gov.
This fact sheet is based on information from the following sources:
- From the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
- Learn About Clinical Studies
- NIH Clinical Research Trials and You: The Basics
- A Patient's Guide to Clinical Trials
- From the National Cancer Institute at NIH:
[Note from TheBody.com: This article was created by AIDSinfo, who last updated it on Aug. 25, 2017. We have cross-posted it with their permission.]