In the medical world exists an impossible problem: although US black women face a disproportionately high risk of HIV infection compared to white women, the incidence of HIV infection among them is not high enough for researchers to carry out comprehensive studies, which require prohibitively high sample sizes, of prevention drugs tailored specifically to black women.
Research shows that HIV prevention programs work. But little is known about what treatments work for one of the United State’s most at-risk populations for HIV infection.
Luckily, UNC’s Dr. Adaora Adimora likes solving problems with no obvious solution, and she especially likes solving problems for populations in need.
The professor of medicine and epidemiology teamed up with Dr. Stephen Cole and Dr. Joseph Eron, also from UNC, to come up with a proposal to change the way clinical trials for HIV prevention are approached in lower-incidence settings.
Traditionally, randomized clinical trials (RCTs) studying thousands and thousands of participants are conducted to determine the effectiveness of new drugs. But in situations where that’s not feasible, Adimora and her team suggests a combination of clinical and pharmacological data from traditional clinical trials and smaller studies to estimate the effectiveness of drugs.