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Some treatments and cures are discovered accidentally, and some take years to figure out. In all cases, new treatments and medications need testing. It’s in these testing phases that researchers and doctors learn how a treatment works, what the benefits are, and even what the risks are. Clinical trials are crucial to moving medicine forward.

Why Are Clinical Trials Needed?

Clinical trials are used to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a medication or treatment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must approve every test or drug before it can be prescribed to patients. The FDA requires companies, researchers, and labs to scrutinize and study their product or therapy for years. These studies are done in clinical trials.

Who Benefits from HIV Clinical Trials?

Currently the HIV virus can only be treated, not cured. But researchers are working diligently to find more effective treatments, and hopefully, eventually a cure.

Clinical trials can help researchers understand why some treatments work and others don’t. Researchers often discover side effects and complications in the trial phase of a treatment. But trials can also help doctors find better, more effective ways to use the medicine or therapy.

Clinical trials aren’t just for infected individuals. HIV-negative patients can take part in research trials too. Some clinical trials are currently investigating the effectiveness of an HIV vaccine. Only people who are HIV negative can take part in those particular studies.

How Do Clinical Trials Work?

Universities, clinics, government labs, and hospitals are among the many organizations that conduct these trials. Each clinical trial has specific criteria that researchers must abide by when they select participants. These criteria are listed in the study’s protocol. The protocol explains eligibility information, the length of the study, and other important details. Before you agree to a clinical trial, be sure to read the protocol and discuss it with your doctor.

Should I Participate?

Participation in a clinical trial can have several benefits: You may help discover the next great medical breakthrough. You may find relief from HIV symptoms. Or you could delay the virus’s progression in your body.

Some clinical trials even offer financial incentives. These incentives may include payments, free medication, and office visits during the study. However, not every trial has these benefits.

Before you sign up for a clinical trial, it’s important that you understand the risks and benefits. Talk with your doctor. Your medical history may affect how well you respond to the trial’s requirements. Be sure to talk with the researchers conducting the trial to understand the risks and responsibilities before you begin.