Of the more than 1 million people in the U.S. living with HIV/AIDS, only 25 percent are women. However, recruiters tasked with signing up participants for clinical trials of HIV/AIDS treatments are finding it difficult to enroll enough women to accurately reflect the afflicted population.
In fact, a recent study of a promising pill called “Quad” included 700 participants, but only 10 percent of them were women.
Researchers who have looked at the discrepancy attribute it to the fact that more than 77 percent of women in the U.S. with HIV/AIDS are minorities who are poorer and have less access to medical treatment at universities where the research is taking place. Additionally, researchers cite a mistrust of medical researchers in the black community due to past exploitation.
The added efforts necessary to recruit female patients are often not undertaken in order to avoid delaying the start of a study.
However, some researchers are stepping up their efforts to include more women in their studies. Women metabolize medications differently than men and often experience different side effects, making the results of studies based disproportionately on male subjects not totally applicable to female HIV/AIDS patients.
If you are a woman living with HIV/AIDS, it’s especially important to avail yourself of opportunities to participate in clinical trials that may lead to more effective treatments.
To learn more about your diagnosis, available treatments, and questions to ask your physician, refer to the Vitals HIV/AIDS Patient Guide.