Being a 'guinea pig' in a clinical trial

ABC Health & Wellbeing
Bianca Nogrady
Original Article:

Sixty years ago, childhood leukaemia was a uniformly fatal illness. With nothing in the medical arsenal to treat the disease, it killed just about every child who developed it.

If a child is diagnosed with leukaemia today, they have around an 80 per cent of surviving beyond five years. This means that four out of five of these children will still be alive after five years. It’s an extraordinary medical achievement, and one that owes much to the fact that in the past, a large proportion of sufferers have taken part in clinical trials of new treatments.

"When this research was touted 18 months ago, I didn’t think there would be much call for it," says Russell, chair of the HIV Foundation of Queensland. The study committee had planned to recruit by notifying GPs, by promoting the trial through the gay media, and even using Facebook to get the word out to the community.

But since then, word about successful trials of so-called "pre-exposure prophylaxis", or PrEP in other countries has meant potential participants are actually knocking on his door. PrEP has emerged as a potential game-changer for HIV prevention, with overseas trials suggesting that it can be extremely effective at stopping people from getting infected.

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