Objective: To evaluate initial reported willingness to participate in a hypothetical HIV vaccine clinical trial and actual participation of volunteers in a longitudinal observational study.
Methods: We recruited HIV negative male and female volunteers aged 18-45 years into a longitudinal observational study at KAVI-ICR Kangemi in Kenya, to serve as a pool from which to draw participants into a phase I HIV vaccine clinical trial. A structured questionnaire was used to collect information regarding willingness to join a HIV vaccine clinical trial in the future. Study follow-up visits were every 6 months.
Results: A total of 105 participants were screened and 100 (M46:F54) were enrolled into the observational study. Ninety- four per cent of those enrolled expressed willingness to participate in a future HIV vaccine trial. Altruism and desire to learn the body's response to the vaccine were the most motivating factors at 40% and 25% respectively. At the onset of a 40-person phase I HIV vaccine trial, 86 observational study participants who had previously expressed willingness to participate were contacted but only 26 (30%) came for information. All 26 consented to participate and after screening for eligibility, 24 were eligible. Of the 24, 15 were enrolled. These numbers were not adequate; hence the vaccine trial employed other recruitment methods to meet the deficit.
Conclusion: Observational "pools" of cohorts may not provide adequate number of participants into vaccine clinical trials even if they report willingness; therefore supplementary recruitment methods such as direct community recruitment, passive approach, and snowballing need to be in place.