Clinical Trials HIV/AIDS

Do HIV Conspiracy Theories Prevent Us From Being in Clinical Trials?

New study says blacks are more willing to participate in AIDS research

When the AIDS epidemic hit in the early ’80s, conspiracy theories and myths began swirling around almost instantly. Ideas at the time included:
AIDS is made by the government to kill “undesirable” populations.
There is a cure for AIDS, but they don’t want us to have it.
AIDS meds will kill you.
Obviously, the black community wasn’t exempt from perpetuating these myths, and this comes, in part, for historical reasons. One need only to look at our tumultuous past with the medical establishment: the 1932-72 Tuskegee study, for example, where a cure for syphilis was withheld from black men, and the theft of Henrietta Lacks’ cervical cells for research, to name a few atrocities.
Clearly, we didn’t need AIDS to make us wary of approaching and trusting doctors.
But we live in very different times now. We are 30 years into the epidemic, we have better resources to teach us the truth about the virus and most importantly, the face of AIDS has morphed from a gay white male disease to a black one. And so in order for us to win the battle against AIDS in America, it means we must participate in AIDS research, especially around an HIV vaccine.
But given our baggage, are we really ready to do that? A new study says absolutely.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health found that even though blacks were more likely to believe in conspiracy theories, we were still more willing to participate in research compared to our white and Latino counterparts.
According to Health Canal, researchers also found the following:
— 59 percent of African Americans believed in conspiracy theories compared to 58.6 percent of Mexican Americans and 38.9 percent of whites in the study.
— 58 percent of African Americans surveyed said they were willing to participate in HIV vaccine research, compared to 49 percent of Mexican Americans and 38 percent of whites.
— 81 percent of Mexican Americans surveyed said they already agreed to participate in a HIV study, compared to 70 percent of African Americans and 51 percent of whites.
So if mistrust isn’t this crucial obstacle, why are blacks lagging behind in clinical trial research?
Ryan Westergaard, M.D., one of the study’s main authors, believes the medical community doesn’t work to reach out enough.
For more about AIDS, African Americans and clinical trials, go to BET.com.

Related:
Clinical Trials Challenge: Get Black Folks Involved

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