MacQueen KM, Namey E, Chilongozi DA, Mtweve SP, Mlingo M, Morar N, Reid C, Ristow A, Sahay S
There is on-going global debate and policy-setting concerning researchers’ obligations to meet the health needs of people participating in HIV prevention trials in resource-poor settings. The perspectives of local community stakeholders on this issue are poorly understood as most of what is presented on behalf of communities where research takes place is anecdotal commentary. Using qualitative methods (130 in-depth interviews and 20 focus groups) we assessed perceived fairness of different strategies to meet the health needs of women who become HIV-infected during a hypothetical vaginal microbicide trial. Respondents included HIV prevention research participants, community stakeholders and health-care service providers in ten sites in seven countries (South Africa, Malawi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, India, US). Many respondents perceived referrals to be a potentially fair way to address care and treatment needs but concerns were also voiced about the adequacy of local health-care options and the ability of trial participants to access options. Most respondents viewed the provision of antiretroviral treatment by researchers to HIV-infected trial participants as unfair if treatment was not sustained beyond the end of the trial. The results underscore the importance of effectively linking trial participants to sustainable, community-based treatment and care.