Women under-represented in HIV clinical trials

A recent systematic review of clinical trials of HIV antiretroviral medications showed women were less than a quarter of participants.  The authors noted that this could limit the generalisability of findings as women can absorb drugs differently and respond differently to medication (side effects). Under representation of women is a problem across many chronic illness clinical trials but is particularly noticeable when looking at HIV. The authors looked at 387 studies with over 95,000 participants, using studies published from 1994 until 2011. The average female participation rate was 23% but had improved from 9% in the mid-1990s until 22% more recently. The authors acknowledge the barriers to women participating in clinical trials generally. These include safety concerns around pregnancy and socio-economic inequities, however state that more supportive recruitment and retention strategies could help overcome this. They closely examined a stage 111 trial in the United States which set out to address these barriers and which had a 67% female participation rate. The article by Curno MJ et al. is published in the 2016 February issue of the Journal of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndromes and is summarised on AIDSMap.

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