MELBOURNE HIV patients were denied access to a potential treatment unless they allowed their doctors to harvest extra genetic material from them for future research.
Documents obtained by Fairfax Media show patients at The Alfred hospital were excluded from a 2009 clinical trial if they did not consent to the unusual, and, according to some critics, unethical, demand from their treating doctors to give extra blood and urine for research.
The study - which involved HIV patients whose immune systems were not responding to traditional antiretroviral medications - offered access to a new drug that was not available anywhere else and which was being promoted to them in documents as a ''treatment''. Those who took part had to agree to end the treatment they were on.
An Alfred hospital patient information and consent form, dated February 23, 2009, states: ''If you do not agree to having blood taken for future research relating to the treatment of HIV you will not be able to participate in this study.''
The document states that about 108 millilitres of a patient's blood would be stored and that it would be up to The Alfred hospital's ethics committee ''to determine, whether, or not, your consent should be obtained at that time for a particular research project''.
Other Alfred patient consent forms for similar research work do not have this stipulation and carry a contrary disclaimer stating that the hospital's human research ethics committee would seek consent before using any remaining blood from studies.
By Richard Baker, Nick McKenzie
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