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Willingness to Volunteer in Future Preventive HIV Vaccine Trials: Issues and Perspectives From Three U.S. Communities

Strauss Ronald P.; Sengupta, Sohini; Kegeles, Susan; McLellan, Eleanor; Metzger, David; Eyre, Stephen; Khanani, Fauzia; Emrick, Catherine B.; MacQueen, Kathleen M.
JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes: January 1st, 2001
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Summary:This study examined perceived risks, benefits, and desired information related to willingness to volunteer in preventive HIV vaccine trials.

Sample:Purposive sampling was used to select 90 participants among injecting drug users (Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.); gay men (San Francisco, CA, U.S.A.); and black Americans (Durham, NC, U.S.A.).

Methods:A qualitative interview guide elicited perceived benefits, risks, and desired information relating to trial participation. Themes were developed from the transcribed texts and from freelists.

Results:Stated willingness to volunteer in a preventive HIV vaccine trial was similar across the three communities. Eight perceived benefits were reported, including self-benefits, altruism, and stopping the spread of AIDS. Seven perceived risks were reported, including negative side effects and vaccine safety issues, contracting HIV from the vaccine, and social stigmatization. Participants voiced the desire for eight types of information about issues relating to trust and confidentiality in the research process, health complications and later assistance, and vaccine trial methodology.

Conclusions:In this study, many benefits as well as risks of preventive HIV vaccine trial participation were cited. Scientists conducting preventive HIV vaccine trials need to address community perceptions of risks and provide information about the research if trial enrollment is to be diverse and successful.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Ronald P. Strauss, University of North Carolina Center for AIDS Research, Department of Dental Ecology, University of North Carolina School of Dentistry, CB# 7450, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7450 U.S.A.; e-mail:

At the time of the study, Dr. MacQueen was affiliated with the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.

Manuscript received March 20, 2000; accepted October 2, 2000.

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.