Simply stated, a clinical trial is a research study conducted by a principal investigator—typically a medical doctor—and supported by a team of nurses and other professionals who may hold clinical research degrees. It’s also the fastest way to gather information about the safety and effectiveness of new medical approaches in the battle against diseases such as AIDS. HIV/AIDS clinical trials generally fall into one of three categories:*
- New HIV/AIDS medications or combination of medications
- New surgical procedures
- New uses for an existing medicine or piece of equipment
Naturally, clinical trials come with both benefits and risks for participants. A primary benefit is the degree to which the clinical research may help provide a more effective treatment—for example, a newer HIV/AIDS drug that delivers better results or carries fewer side effects—before it’s available on the market. Participants in clinical trials may also receive a stipend for their time and involvement. On the other hand, depending on the particular study and how it’s designed, all clinical trials carry natural risks, which is why informed consent is so critical.
While most HIV/AIDS clinical trial participants carry the HIV virus, sometimes a study calls for participants who do not. Depending on the specific study design, participants may need to meet other criteria to join a trial, including, age, gender, other medical conditions, and length of time since diagnosis.
Despite enormous progress, the battle against HIV/AIDS is not over. If you’re interested in the clinical side of furthering solutions, one popular clinical research degree is the MS in clinical research administration. This degree can provide you with the knowledge you need to be successful in helping build and conduct clinical trials. On a broader level not necessarily specific to clinical trials, a PhD in public health or a master of public health (MPH) degree can also help you develop valuable skills to join the fight against HIV/AIDS.
*AIDS Info, “HIV Prevention: HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials,” on the Internet at https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/education-materials/fact-sheets/20/43/hiv-aids-clinical-trials#.
Ready to keep communities healthy and safe with a career in clinical research or public health? Earn your degree online at Walden University, an accredited institution offering online degree programs in a flexible, convenient format.