AIDSVAX TRIALS: Recruiters Face Uphill Battle
As researchers around the country scurry to boost enrollment in VaxGen's Phase III clinical trials of AIDSVAX, many in the California area are finding that convincing HIV-negative, high-risk individuals to undergo the lengthy trial is a difficult pitch, the Sacramento Bee reports. Nearly one year into the recruitment process, research centers are only halfway to their goal of 5,000 participants. "Because we are looking for men who are having sex with men, you are in effect coming out of the closet if anyone finds out you are in the study," said John Rambo, director of Breaking Barriers, a group coordinating outreach efforts in California. In Sacramento, he said, centers have enrolled only 65 of the 150 men they had hoped for. VaxGen's Nicole Lynch said some eligible men are wary of making a three-year commitment to the trial, while others are under the mistaken impression that the vaccine could confer the virus itself. Another factor, she said, is that people have become complacent about HIV. The sense of urgency is gone, she said, adding, "You don't see really sick people walking down the street anymore." Rambo said his organization, which works to boost recruitment with the Center for AIDS Research, Education and Services and the University of California-Davis, has placed advertisements for the vaccine program in gay publications and in bars on college campuses. The group arranged Tuesday "for a recruit to be vaccinated publicly .. after a news conference at the state Capitol" (Hubert, Sacramento Bee, 5/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.