How do I know if I have HIV?

The only way to know if you have HIV is be tested by a physician, who will test your blood for HIV antibodies. If you think you have been exposed to the virus, please see a clinician and request an HIV test.

What is a clinical trial?

Clinical trials are carefully-monitored research studies in which health professionals test new therapies (e.g., new medications, combinations of established medications, or diagnostic tests) on human subjects after laboratory and animal studies have suggested that such therapies may be effective in humans. They have contributed to our knowledge of HIV/AIDS, aided the development of safer and more effective medications, and led to dramatic improvement in the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Are the trials safe?

Before a patient can take part in a particular trial, clinicians ensure that he or she understands that trial’s purpose, risks, and benefits, as well as what will be expected of the patient as a participant. This process ensures that a patient’s decision to take part in a clinical trial is an informed one.

Medications used in the studies may cause side effects, as may any medication. Every patients’ progress is carefully monitored by their clinicians, who are trained to recognize and handle any adverse reactions to the study medications.

How can I paticipate in a clinical trial?

Call the ACTU Research Screener at (984) 974-0156 for additional information or via email at

I am interested in participating in a clinical trial, but I do not live in the area. How can I find out about trials near me?

Depending on your location, you can contact similar programs at other universities. The National Institutes of Health maintains an online database of clinical trials for a variety of conditions, including HIV/AIDS. Other sites, such as AmFAR, CenterWatch, and HIVInSite also offer lists of trials.

How is my information kept confidential?

Patients are identified by a code, and personal information from their records will not be released without their written permission. Nor will they be identified personally in any publications about their studies. Patient records, however, may be reviewed under the Federal Privacy Act’s guidelines by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Division of AIDS, study monitors, and pharmaceutical companies in those particular cases in which they supply the study treatment.

What happens to my care when the study ends?

Post-study care depends on several factors, including the study in question. Some patients begin another study, others return to their primary care physicians or visit the UNC Infectious Diseases Clinic for care.

Where can I find out about support groups or other resources for people with HIV/AIDS or for their friends and family?

There are several organizations that will help you find appropriate support services listed on our links page. Many of those listed are in North Carolina, but some serving other parts of the country are listed among the other links. If you do not see one from your region, please contact your healthcare provider or local hospital for support services in your area.

Where can I get more information on HIV/AIDS or clinical trials?

Our links page hosts an extensive list of sites providing information on a range of issues regarding both HIV/AIDS and clinical trials.

Is it possible to volunteer at the UNC-CH AIDS Research and Treatment Unit?

Unfortunately, confidentiality concerns make volunteering directly with the clinical trials difficult, but the UNC hospital system offers many volunteering opportunities. Several non-hospital organizations also welcome volunteers, such as the Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina in the North Carolina Piedmont.

Are there any job openings at the UNC-CH AIDS Research and Treatment Unit?

Employment positions are posted with UNC Healthcare as soon as they are available. Please check the listings on the Employment Office homepage and follow the application instructions given for the available positions.