Summary: This article examines whether preventive HIV vaccine trials will be viable among female injection drug users (IDUs). Of the 137 women who completed baseline serologic and behavioral assessments, 121 (88%) were seronegative; all enrolled in Project Jumpstart in Philadelphia (PA, U.S.A.), a vaccine preparedness initiative cosponsored by NIAID and NIDA. Subjects were seen every 3 months for risk and vaccine opinion assessment, risk reduction counseling, and HIV antibody testing. The baseline prevalence rate of HIV infection was 12% (16 of 137) with an annual incidence rate of 3.5% (4 of 114) during the first year. Of the 121 baseline seronegative women, 28% shared needles and 52% engaged in unprotected intercourse. Sixty percent of the baseline seronegative women reported being willing to be one of the first people to try an HIV vaccine. According to logistic regression, needle sharers were 12.8 times more likely, women who engaged in sex for drugs or money 6.6 times more likely, out-of-treatment women 3.5 times more likely, and those who believed that vaccines can prevent disease acquisition 3 times more likely to report willingness to try an HIV vaccine than their respective counterparts. At 1-year postbaseline assessment, 98% of the women had behavioral data collected and 95% had serologic specimens collected. Given that seroconversions occur and that these women engage in risk behaviors, report willingness to try an HIV vaccine, and can be retained for longitudinal assessment, they appear to be suitable participants for preventive HIV vaccine efficacy trials. Nonetheless, work is required to insure that these women make informed and knowledgeable decisions regarding trial enrollment.
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