Clinical Trials Frequently Asked Questions

What is a clinical trial?
A clinical trial is a research study to answer specific questions about new therapies, new ways of using established therapies, or looking at new HIV prevention methods. Clinical trials are used to find out whether new drugs, treatments or strategies are both safe and effective. Most current drug therapies were first developed in past clinical trials.

Why should I consider joining a clinical trial?
There are several reasons that people say they join a clinical trial.

  • Many people who are in clinical trials like the personalized medical attention that they receive. Each clinical trial has at least one study nurse who is assigned to the trial. The study nurse is available to you to answer any questions that you may have.
  • Many clinical trials provide more frequent monitoring of people’s health than is normally done for non-clinical trial patients. While this may require more visits than you are used to, you will have regular up-to-date reports on your health.
  • Some trials provide people access to new drugs or therapies that are not available to the larger HIV+ community. Many of these drugs are provided at no cost to the trial participants.
  • Many people say that participating in a clinical trial gives them the sense that they are helping not only themselves, but everyone who is HIV-positive. (And they are right about that !!!!)

I like my current doctor. If I join a clinical trial, do I have to switch doctors?
No. The AIDS Clinical Trials Unit will work closely with your primary doctor. All laboratory reports from the clinical trial will be sent to your primary doctor. If we find that you need some type of treatment that is outside of the trial, you will be referred back to your primary doctor.

Will I be told of everything about a trial before I decide to participate?
Yes, everyone thinking about entering a trial is provided written information detailing the risks, benefits and procedures involved in the trial. Any questions that you have will be answered by a Clinical Trial staff person.

If the treatment I am getting in a clinical trial isn’t working for me, can my therapy be switched?
Yes, in some cases the treatment can be switched while you stay on the trial. In other cases, you may have to stop the clinical trial. In either case, this will be discussed with you and your primary doctor before any changes are made.

Do you have any trials for my situation?
That depends. New trials open each month. We make an effort to have trials for HIV+ people who have different medical needs, such as those who are failing current therapies, studies for persons who have never received antiviral therapies, and studies of complications or side effects from taking medications.