Phoenix-Based Group Conducts Trials On Experimental Antiretrovirals

Armen Hareyan's picture

Experimental Antiretrovirals

The Arizona Republic on Thursday profiled Phoenix, Ariz.-based Body Positive,a not-for-profit group that holds a nationally recognized clinicaltrial site used by pharmaceutical companies to test antiretroviraldrugs.


Kirk Baxter, founder of the Body Positive center andAndy Myers, the group's medical director of clinical trials, launchedthe organization more than 10 years ago to help provide localHIV-positive residents with access to antiretrovirals. According toBaxter, he and Myers mailed letters to drug companies interested intesting such medicines.

Pharmaceutical company Rocheresponded to the group in the mid-1990s, introducing a test forSaquinivir, the first protease inhibitor approved in the U.S., inPhoenix and other clinical sites across the country. Since then thegroup has conducted more than 100 drug studies, and more than 24 drugshave been approved by FDA. Body Positive currently tests drugs produced by six companies, including Abbott Laboratories, Hoffman-La Roche and Merck.

Theorganization now has a $3.5 million annual budget and serves about1,500 HIV-positive clients each year. The group provides behavioralhealth services, support groups, wellness programs, and a vitamin andherb shop, according to the Republic. The federalgovernment in 2005 cut about $600,000 in funding for the group'swellness program, and Body Positive now relies on community donationsto continue operating the initiative.

According to the Republic,drug companies fund the majority of the cost for the clinical trials,providing free medicines and paying for blood screenings for all trialparticipants. Body Positive spends about $200,000 annually to supportthe program, a large part of which goes to post-trial clients who needdrugs that are not yet FDA-approved. More than 11,600 Arizonans areliving with HIV/AIDS, and nearly 70% of them live in the Phoenix area,the Republic reports (Alltucker, Arizona Republic, 9/27).

Reprinted with permission from You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at . TheKaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for, a free service ofThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.