Trial-related discrimination in HIV vaccine clinical trials.
Participants in preventive HIV vaccine trials may experience negative social consequences of trial participation, including problems related to a vaccine-induced positive HIV antibody test, yet few vaccine studies have reported on this issue. From October 1995 through November 1998, 1516 AIDS Vaccine Evaluation Group (AVEG) volunteers were assessed for reports of trial-related discrimination (TRD). Ninety TRD events were reported by 76 (5%) of 1516 volunteers. The most commonly reported incidents (n = 52, 57.8%) were negative reactions of friends, family, and co-workers to the volunteer. Few incidents (approximately 10%) were reported as linked to HIV testing. The majority of events (n = 47, 52%) were described by volunteers as "resolved" at the time of reporting, 36 (40%) as "not resolved," and for 7 (8%) events volunteers did not report resolution status. Reported incidents were analyzed by logistic regression to determine their association with the volunteer's age, sex, race, sexual orientation, and HIV risk category. There was no association between volunteer characteristics and TRD. Logistic regression and analysis of variance (ANOVA) were used to analyze association of trial sites with the number of TRD events reported. After controlling for site variation in data collection and reporting, no significant differences were found between the sites in terms of the number or type of TRD reported. Fears that TRD would be widespread and severe have not been borne out by this analysis. While the results of this study are reassuring, they should be interpreted with caution, as it is unclear whether these results may be extended to phase III trials enrolling large numbers of individuals at higher risk of HIV acquisition.