The bottom line? We have to do more
What was once a challenge I issued to my colleagues is now a team commitment –– to enrol at least 25% women in all of ViiV’s clinical studies. Despite our best efforts, we haven’t always been successful at reaching this goal, but we continue to make it a priority.
We also have a strong commitment to making sure other under-represented groups are part of our clinical trials. Just recently, we collaborated with the HIV Prevention Trials Network of the NIH to conduct a clinical trial for HIV prevention that included the largest proportions of Black men who have sex with men and transgender women ever enrolled in a comparative efficacy prevention trial. This achievement in recruitment required commitment at all levels of trial conduct from the study team, the sponsor, community partners and of course, study participants. The first step was to make the inclusion of under-represented groups a top priority. There’s a companion study currently ongoing that is 100% women. These important milestones tell us that it is possible to enrol diverse and “hard to reach” populations if the commitment is strong.
The Centers for Disease Control report that of the nearly 38,000 new cases of HIV in the US in 2018, 19% were women, of which 58% were Black or African American. This trend is worse globally, where UNAIDS says women account for 48% of all new HIV diagnoses. These stats came up in conversations during the AIDS 2020 conference and colleagues reiterated that the need to increase inclusion of women in clinical trials is more important than ever. We know women want to be engaged; they tell us they want more options for HIV treatment and prevention and we’ve seen them stand in line to be part of clinical trials.
What’s the bottom line? Yes, there are challenges in enrolling women in HIV clinical trials but we know they can be overcome. It’s 2020. The time has come to stop making excuses and get it done. The health and lives of women around the world depend on it.
Follow Kimberly on her LinkedIn page here.