Even though the majority (68 percent) of people affected by HIV are minorities, approximately 70 percent of those participating in clinical trials for medication are predominately white.
The reason, according to public health researcher Sarah Bauerle Bass, lies in the way these trials are marketed to minorities. And, more importantly, how men and women respond when asked to participate in a clinical trial.
In a recent study published in the journal AIDS Care, Bass and her colleagues interviewed urban HIV patients and then used perceptual mapping method to understand gender differences related to participating in a clinical trial. In the study, Bass found that “distrust and fear appear to prevent participation among men, while issues surrounding the safety and efficacy of the medication represent barriers for women.”
“This is a marketing problem that can be understood with a marketing approach,” says Bass. “The same message may not work for both men and women. This applies to HIV but can apply to other diseases as well.” Bass has also conducted research on barriers for African American cancer patients to participating in clinical trials.
Bass and her colleagues collaborated with Temple University’s Comprehensive HIV Program to conduct the research.