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News of the Day ... in Perspective

5/8/2005

Foster children used in AIDS drug tests

According to an Associated Press review, researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health tested AIDS drugs on hundreds of children in foster care over the past two decades without appointing the advocates required by federal law.

The practice allowed HIV-infected children to receive otherwise unavailable drugs from world-class researchers at government expense, say its defenders. It also exposed vulnerable children to drugs known to have serious side effects in adults, which had not undergone safety testing in children.

In one study a “disturbingly higher” death rate was reported in children taking higher doses. But Illinois officials credit the studies with a decline in the deaths of HIV-positive children from 40 between 1989 and 1995 to 19 since.

Officials estimate that between 5 and 10 percent of the 13,878 children enrolled in AIDS studies were in foster care.

Some states, such as Wisconsin, do not permit experimentation on foster children.

The U.S. Office for Human Research Protections, formed after the infamous Tuskegee syphilis studies in black men, is investigating the use of foster children in AIDS research.

Additional information:

Documents associated with the AP story and a video featuring Elizabeth Roberts of the Administration for Children’s Services in New York City, which is changing its policy on using foster children in these tests: http://wid.ap.org/inv/foster.html.

“Federal court overturns pediatric rule,” and other items related to the AAPS lawsuit.

“New York Times calls for sacrificing children,” AAPS News, May 2002.

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