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 combinations of medicines
- new surgical procedures or devices
- new ways to use an existing medicine or device
HIV clinical trials are research studies done to look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat HIV. Clinical trials are the safest and fastest way to determine if new medical approaches to HIV prevention or treatment are safe and effective in people. All the medicines used to prevent and treat HIV in the United States were first studied in clinical trials.
Examples of HIV 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
Clinical studies can take place in many locations, including hospitals, universities, doctors' offices, and community clinics. The location depends on who is conducting the study.
Can I Participate in a HIV Clinical Trial?
Volunteers are a very important part of scientific research and play an essential role in the work to end AIDS. Each trial recruits volunteer participants. Whether you can participate depends on the study. Some HIV clinical trials enroll only people living with HIV. Others 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 clinical trial.
To find an HIV clinical trial looking for volunteers and/or determine if you are eligible to participate in a particular study, use the NIH AIDSinfo clinical trial search tool.
Benefits of HIV Clinical Trials
There are some good reasons to consider participating in a clinical trial. You could:
- Gain access to new HIV medicines before they are widely available
- Receive regular and careful medical care from a research team that includes doctors and other health professionals. (Often the medical care and medicines are free of charge.)
- Have a chance to help others by contributing to medical research
Also, 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 Clinical Trials Safe?
Researchers try to make HIV/AIDS clinical trials as safe as possible. However, volunteering to participate in an HIV study can involve risks of varying degrees.
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.
Also, the privacy of study volunteers is important to everyone involved in an HIV clinical trial. The informed content process includes an explanation of how a study volunteer’s personal information is protected.
- AIDSInfo – HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials
- AIDSInfo – Clinical Trial Information
- ClinicalTrials.gov – Learn About Clinical Studies
- FDA – Clinical Trials and Human Subject Protection
- NIH - NIH Clinical Research Trials and You
- NIH – A Patient’s Guide to Clinical Trials
- OWH – Research and Clinical Trials in HIV/AIDS
- VA – HIV and Clinical Trials
- HPTN – HIV Prevention Trials Network
Last revised: 12/31/2015