Insurance fears make volunteers balk at AIDS trial

A professor at the University of Toronto is warning that researchers may find it increasingly difficult to enlist volunteers for new trials exploring the safety and efficacy of experimental AIDS vaccines. Peter Newman interviewed a group of volunteers who had opted out of Merck's international STEP program and found a common fear that they would test positive for HIV because of the antibodies produced by the vaccine.

Their response: "This could change your life," says Newman. "We are not talking about getting little round spots on your hands or something. We are talking about showing up positive. How can you tell your doctor, your insurance company? Like, how do you deal with that? Because this has a huge stigma for people."

The group also demonstrated a fear they would be denied life insurance or find it difficult to explain a positive test to a prospective partner. But all the reasons add up to one major concern: future AIDS vaccine trials are likely to run into some serious obstacles in gaining enough volunteers for accurate testing.

- read the article from CBC

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