Unacceptable

More than half of H.I.V. patients are women, so why are most research subjects men?

An AIDS researcher extracts fluid from a vial. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Amid reports that two patients have been cured of the H.I.V. infection, attention is turning to a disturbing shortfall when it comes to research of the disease: an overwhelming lack of women in clinical trials.

Women make up more than half of the 35 million people living with H.I.V. around the world, according to The New York Times. The virus is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age. Women and men respond differently to H.I.V. infection, but clinical trials rely heavily on the participation of gay men, according to the Times.

“There are all sorts of differences between men and women, probably mediated partially by hormonal effects,” Dr. Monica Gandhi, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told the Times. For instance, estrogen seems to lull H.I.V. into a dormant state — and the dormant virus is harder for the immune system or drugs to combat.

It’s generally difficult to get scientists to take the need to enlist women seriously, Dr. Eileen Scully, assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, told the Times. “Some of the hard scientists dismiss this type of discussion as being more socially determined, or some sort of women’s liberation thing.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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