Case Western Reserve University/University Hospitals AIDS Clinical Trials Unit Launches Outreach to Enlist More Women in Clinical Trials

The Case Western Reserve University/University Hospitals (UH) AIDS Clinical Trials Unit has a new initiative to reach out to women in Northeast Ohio regarding the critical need for them to participate in HIV-related clinical trials.

The initiative, titled “You can make a difference” will include community outreach and a video recognizing women who have helped advance research and medicine in the past and encouraging the importance of women today continuing those traditions. The video will be provided to local news channels as a public service announcement, and also be available to the public online and through social media. 

Clinical trials give researchers the opportunity to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of new drugs or treatments. The trials not only inform care, but represent the final step toward securing federal approval of a promising medicine or approach.

More than 25 percent of the people living with HIV in Cuyahoga County are women, and 50 percent of the people worldwide with HIV are women. In sub-Saharan Africa, where HIV has taken a devastating human toll, 60 percent of people with HIV are women. 

“Our research not only can provide benefits to women here in Cleveland and the United States, but to women around the world, including in the most impacted areas of the world,” said Benigno Rodriguez, MD, Principal Investigator of the Case/UH unit and Associate Professor of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. “Research done here benefits women everywhere.” 

Dr. Rodriguez explained that when people hear about HIV prevention trials, they often make incorrect assumptions. One is that many women think that because they are not at a high risk for HIV, they cannot participate.

“This is not true – in fact, in many of our trials, we are looking for people who are not at a high risk for HIV infection. Second, some people might think that by entering a clinical trial they are somehow being placed at risk of HIV infection. This also is not true. All of our clinical trial participants are provided ongoing counseling to stay free of HIV,” said Dr. Rodriguez.  

He emphasized that it is not just important that clinical trials enroll the number of people that are needed, but that the enrollees also should reflect the demographics of the people impacted by HIV, including racial and ethnic minorities and women. 

“We want women to understand that they are needed, and that reaching out to find out more information about clinical trials is a safe thing to do. We do not pressure people into joining trials – we provide an explanation of the trial, and let people make their own decisions. Clinical trials are not for everyone – but we believe that everyone should know about them, so that they can make their own decisions. We want people to make decisions based on the facts,” said Dr. Rodriguez. 

The Case/UH unit initiative includes women living with HIV. The Case/UH unit has been providing treatment trials for HIV-positive people since its inception in 1987. As a member site of the largest HIV clinical research network, the AIDS Clinical Trials Group, research conducted in Cleveland has contributed to the many medical advances for treating people infected with HIV. “The discovery and continued improvement of anti-HIV medicines has radically changed the prognosis for people living with HIV,” said Dr. Rodriguez. Without sufficient representation, the research results will not be able to be directly translatable to clinical care of women. 

In addition to the video, AIDS Clinical Trials Unit personnel will be out in the community talking with women about HIV-related clinical trials. Groups that may be interested in hearing a presentation about HIV research should email or call 216-844-4444. 

For further information and to watch the video go to


About Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine 
Founded in 1843, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the largest medical research institution in Ohio and is among the nation’s top medical schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. The School of Medicine is recognized throughout the international medical community for outstanding achievements in teaching. The School’s innovative and pioneering Western Reserve2 curriculum interweaves four themes--research and scholarship, clinical mastery, leadership, and civic professionalism--to prepare students for the practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century. Nine Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the School of Medicine.

Annually, the School of Medicine trains more than 800 MD and MD/PhD students and ranks in the top 25 among U.S. research-oriented medical schools as designated by U.S. News & World Report’s“Guide to Graduate Education.”

The School of Medicine’s primary affiliate is University Hospitals Case Medical Center and is additionally affiliated with MetroHealth Medical Center, the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic, with which it established the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in 2002.

About University Hospitals
University Hospitals, the second largest employer in Northeast Ohio with 25,000 employees, serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 15 hospitals, 28 outpatient health centers and primary care physician offices in 15 counties. At the core of our $3.5 billion health system is University Hospitals Case Medical Center, ranked among America’s 50 best hospitals by U.S. News & World Report in all 12 methodology-ranked specialties. The primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, UH Case Medical Center is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research centers of excellence in the nation, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopaedics, radiology, neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, digestive health, transplantation and genetics. Its main campus includes UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation; UH MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; and UH Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University. For more information, go to

Media Contact(s):

Jeannette  Spalding

George  Stamatis