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Despite African Americans composing 13% of the US population, they account for 51% of all reported AIDS cases between 1985 and 2002. Yet, due to a variety of sociocultural, structural and economic factors, many African Americans are uneducated about or distrustful of HIV/AIDS research methods and research-related procedures and terms in general. Researchers are struggling to find African Americans for screening and enrollment in AIDS Clinical Trials, which is critical to the development of new antiretroviral medications. “Without adequate representation of racial and ethnic minorities it is difficult to assess the ramifications, if any, of race and gender on HIV treatment regimens” (Cargill and Stone 906). Understanding these barriers to enrollment and developing strategies to combat them are essential to forming more successful minority recruitment methods in HIV/AIDS research. To establish this link, I examined numerous focus group studies, surveys and questionnaires that evaluated the willingness of African American populations to participate in health research and the obstacles impeding their enrollment, as well outlined methods to increase their participation. The studies revealed distrust rooted in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and other historical events, poor or inadequate knowledge of healthcare procedures and terminology, and other various structural issues as major barriers to minority enrollment. However, although the Tuskegee Syphilis Study has discouraged some African Americans from participating in health, specifically HIV/AIDS-related, research, a combination of other sociocultural factors has played a greater role in their decisions to participate. It is crucial for healthcare professionals to educate minority populations about the benefits and drawbacks of health research, form trusting patient-provider relationships, and provide culturally sensitive recruitment strategies such as peer-driven intervention. Increasing African American participation in AIDS Clinical Trials is the only way to treat these issues, and it is imperative that health professionals take the necessary steps to do so.
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