Bleak future for patients left out of key HIV drug studies

HIV research does not favour Blacks, Asians, minority ethnic communities, women and straight men, shows study.

Photo credit: Fotosearch

Some patients are being left out of HIV research, a new study has shown.

The said gap implies that the trial designs that researchers come up with do not favour Blacks, Asians, minority ethnic communities, women and straight men.

This, therefore, affects the intake of HIV medication by the target population that is left out. That in turn puts the patients at risk of health deterioration.

The researcher, Dr Debi Bhattacharya, a professor of Behavioural Pharmacy at the University of East Anglia, told HealthyNation her main focus was to find out if migrants who were disproportionately affected by HIV/Aids were included in such researches.

In as much as her focus was not entirely on trials conducted in African countries like Kenya, she acknowledged that whereas 16 per cent of the European population was migrants, 40 per cent of those were living with HIV/Aids.

“Trials conducted in European Union countries typically had less than 20 per cent of participants from Blacks, Asians, and minority ethnic communities, with the remaining 80 per cent being from the native population,” she found.

The research resonates with this year’s tagline for the UNAids report that was released in July during the 23rd International Aids conference: Tackling entrenched inequalities to end epidemics. In the report, UNAids executive director Winnie Byanyima said: “In tackling Covid-19, we must learn the painful lessons from a history of unequal access in dealing with HIV.”

Dr Bhattacharya said: “We already know that the things stopping people from taking their medicine are wildly different depending upon things like language or culture. The studies that we looked at were designing and testing interventions that did not take into account these differences so what they ended up with are services that are either or both not acceptable or not useful to a significant proportion of people living with HIV.”

She said this meant that any interventions would not help minority groups to the same extent they were helping the groups included in the trials.


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