Conspiracy theories not to blame for underrepresentation in HIV studies

August 28, 2013, Springer

Even though most Americans believe some kind of conspiracy theory about HIV care and research, many are willing to take part in vaccine trails, according to a new study by Ryan Westergaard of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, published in Springer's Journal of General Internal Medicine. The study found no link between distrust in medical research and willingness to participate in related studies.

Westergaard and his team asked 601 Chicago residents at various shopping centers to voluntarily complete a set of 235 questions. The survey group purposely included an almost equal number of white, Mexican American and African American participants. The participants were quizzed about how much they agreed with six known HIV-conspiracy beliefs, their general trust in medical research and their willingness to volunteer for HIV-vaccine research trials.

Participants from all three groups shared the same levels of distrust in medical research. However, contrary to popular belief, the researchers found no association between the endorsement of an HIV conspiracy belief, and a general unwillingness to take part in research. Interestingly, even though African Americans and Mexican Americans were more likely to endorse HIV conspiracy beliefs, they were significantly more willing than whites to volunteer for HIV vaccine research. This observation differs from previous studies that suggest higher levels of distrust among racial and ethnic minorities lead to poor participation in vaccine research.

These results are important in light of the substantial racial and in rates of HIV infection in the United States, vis-à-vis the participation of these populations in related research. While minority ethnic groups comprise a majority of those living with HIV, they are underrepresented in HIV research. It is therefore essential that investigators recruit participants from these ethnic groups in higher numbers. Westergaard and his team believe that the underrepresentation of minorities in medical research is more often because of inadequate or inappropriately targeted recruitment efforts by researchers, rather than the unwillingness of minorities to participate in such studies.

"Research involving volunteer human subjects is essential in the ongoing search for an effective HIV vaccine, and in these efforts the participation by people from racial and groups who are most heavily affected by HIV/AIDS, is essential," says Westergaard. "It is therefore heartening to note that the continued circulation of misinformation about HIV research and treatment is much less of a barrier to minority recruitment into HIV research studies than was previously feared."

Explore further: Misunderstanding surrounds HIV vaccine trials

More information: Westergaard, R.P. et al (2013). Racial/ethnic differences in trust in health care: HIV conspiracy beliefs and vaccine research participation, Journal of General Internal Medicine. DOI: 10.1007/s11606-013-2554-6.

Related Stories

Misunderstanding surrounds HIV vaccine trials

September 6, 2011
Better communication is needed around HIV vaccine trials to ensure those in at-risk communities understand the process and continue to participate, according to a new University of Toronto study.

Community pharmacies are effective locations for rapid HIV testing

August 6, 2013
Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have found that community-based pharmacies can be effective locations for offering rapid HIV testing, diagnosing HIV, and connecting those who test ...

FDA approves rapid diagnostic test for HIV antigen, antibodies

August 9, 2013
(HealthDay)—The first rapid test to detect the HIV-1 antigen, as well as blood antibodies for the HIV-1 and HIV-2 strains, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Better care from doctors who are culturally aware

January 14, 2013
HIV patients from ethnic minorities receive better quality of care from doctors and other primary healthcare professionals who are the most competent at caring for patients from diverse backgrounds – those who are "culturally ...

African American women with HIV/HCV less likely to die from liver disease

November 1, 2012
A new study shows that African American women coinfected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) are less likely to die from liver disease than Caucasian or Hispanic women. Findings in the November ...

The importance of treating pediatric AIDS in the elimination agenda

August 27, 2013
Scott Kellerman and colleagues argue that the scope of the current HIV elimination agenda must be broadened in order to ensure access to care and treatment for all children living with HIV.

Recommended for you

HIV-1 genetic diversity is higher in vaginal tract than in blood during early infection

January 18, 2018
A first-of-its-kind study has found that the genetic diversity of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is higher in the vaginal tract than in the blood stream during early infection. This finding, published in PLOS ...

War in Ukraine has escalated HIV spread in the country: study

January 15, 2018
Conflict in Ukraine has increased the risk of HIV outbreaks throughout the country as displaced HIV-infected people move from war-affected regions to areas with higher risk of transmission, according to analysis by scientists.

Researchers offer new model for uncovering true HIV mortality rates in Zambia

January 12, 2018
A new study that seeks to better ascertain HIV mortality rates in Zambia could provide a model for improved national and regional surveillance approaches, and ultimately, more effective HIV treatment strategies.

New drug capsule may allow weekly HIV treatment

January 9, 2018
Researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital have developed a capsule that can deliver a week's worth of HIV drugs in a single dose. This advance could make it much easier for patients to adhere to the strict schedule ...

New long-acting, less-toxic HIV drug suppresses virus in humanized mice

January 8, 2018
A team of Yale researchers tested a new chemical compound that suppresses HIV, protects immune cells, and remains effective for weeks with a single dose. In animal experiments, the compound proved to be a promising new candidate ...

Usage remains low for pill that can prevent HIV infection

January 8, 2018
From gritty neighborhoods in New York and Los Angeles to clinics in Kenya and Brazil, health workers are trying to popularize a pill that has proven highly effective in preventing HIV but which—in their view—remains woefully ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.