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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.
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.
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.
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 here.
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.
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.
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.

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.

Public parking is available in the Dogwood Parking Deck (across from the hospital) and the Ambulatory Care Center (ACC) on Mason Farm Road. We compensate participants for parking with a parking voucher provided during each study visit.The Medical Center and ACC lots offer a convenient shuttle service between the parking decks and hospitals. Those parking in either lot can take advantage of the free shuttle or bus to and from the Medical Center to the ACC.
If it’s the first time, you will be told all the details of the study; what the study is looking for, how much time it will take, and what kind of medications or procedures are involved. If you are interested in participating, you will be asked to sign consent saying that you understand the purposes of the study and are willing to participate. Many studies require a screening blood draw, physical examinations, and a medical history which will also be done at the first visit.
The first visit can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on the study and how many questions you have. All other visits will vary in time according to the specific study in which you are participating.
Yes. Please follow this link for descriptions of various cafes, locations, and hours.
Acute HIV infection is the period of time immediately following infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In the days immediately after infection, HIV replication is extremely rapid, and the virus copies itself over and over again, resulting in an extremely high amount of HIV in the blood (The amount of virus in your blood is called the viral load).  The virus in the blood during this time is often the highest it will ever be since the body’s defenses have not had enough time to respond to the virus.  As the amount of HIV increases in the body, a large number of white cells, called CD4 cells, are destroyed.  Over time, HIV infection causes a dramatic decrease in the number of CD4 cells in the body and a weakening of the immune system.

As the immune system weakens, symptoms of acute HIV syndrome may appear.  About 6 to 8 weeks after acquiring HIV infection, the body starts to defend itself by creating antibodies.  The development of antibodies causes the amount of HIV virus to drop but the virus remains in your blood, and never completely goes away.  As the amount of virus decreases the immune system gets stronger.  The CD4 count can go back up to a near normal if not a normal level.

The period known as acute HIV infection can be referred to by different names such as primary HIV infection, acute retroviral syndrome and acute HIV syndrome.  All these names describe this brief stage immediately following HIV infection.

To find out more, see below:

Acute HIV infection may or may not be accompanied by symptoms. Approximately half of people infected with HIV develop symptoms soon after infection. Typically, symptoms occur 5 to 30 days after the initial infection and can last several weeks. Symptoms usually last about two weeks, but can last for shorter or longer periods. Symptoms include:

  • Fever (usually 101°F or higher)
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sore throat
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Night sweats
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash

Fever is the most common symptom. Because these symptoms are common in other viral illnesses, the diagnosis of acute HIV is often not suspected and the patient is sent home unaware that they have been recently infected with HIV. Having these symptoms does not mean that you have HIV. The same symptoms can occur with the flu, mononucleosis (mono), strep throat and other viral illnesses. However if you think you may have been exposed to HIV/AIDS and are experiencing some of these symptoms – GET TESTED.

If you have had oral, vaginal or anal sex without a condom with a known HIV positive person or a partner whose HIV status you do not know – GET TESTED. (Remember, if you have not seen your partner’s HIV test result or they have had unprotected sex with someone since their last HIV test, you do not know their HIV status).
If you have had oral, vaginal or anal sex without a condom and have been diagnosed with an STD or been sick with a viral illness, you should get tested for acute HIV infection.All publicly funded testing facilities (such as health departments and STD clinics) throughout North Carolina can order HIV RNA testing on negative HIV antibody tests. UNC Hospital also performs RNA testing on all negative HIV antibody EIA tests.However, whether you are tested at UNC hospitals, a health department, a private doctor’s office or any health care facility, if you suspect or know you have been exposed to HIV and/or are experiencing symptoms seen with acute HIV infection, request an HIV RNA test to be done along with the HIV antibody test.No matter where you get tested, it is very important to let your provider know that you may have been recently infected with HIV and you would like to be tested for acute HIV.If you test positive, please make an appointment with an HIV provider for counseling and care; the facility where you tested can help you with a referral to an HIV clinic.If you test negative for HIV, remember to take measures to prevent yourself from becoming infected with HIV, a lifelong chronic disease.

If you don’t know your HIV status, get tested! There are many places around the Triangle region that offer free HIV testing.

Local Places to get Free HIV Testing

Durham County Health Dept.

414 East Main St.
Durham, NC
Full HIV/STD screening free of charge

Student Health Action Coalition

Carrboro Community Health Center
301 Lloyd St.
Carrboro, NC 27510
Free rapid HIV test (Wednesdays 6-9 p.m.)

Wake County Health Dept.

10 Sunnybrook Road
Raleigh, NC 27610 919-250-3947
Full HIV/STD screening free of charge

Orange County Health Dept.

2501 Homestead Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
919-968-2022 Full HIV/STD screening free of charge

North Carolina Health Departments
Free HIV testing is available at all of the North Carolina
Health Departments

National HIV Testing Resources
As a service of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this site has a lot of information on HIV testing as well as a search engine that will find HIV testing clinics in your zip code.

Non-traditional Testing Sites

Alliance of AIDS Services – Carolina

1637 Old Louisburg Road Raleigh, NC 27604 919-834-2437
Free blood HIV test
Mon.-Thurs, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
Mon. & Thurs. evenings, 6-9 p.m.

Women’s Center

112 Cox Ave. Raleigh, NC 27605
First and third Mondays, 1-3 p.m.

Open Door Clinic

1390 Capital Blvd
Raleigh, NC 27603
Tuesdays 5:30-7:30 p.m.

NOTE: Sometimes tests are inconclusive. This may be because of Acute HIV syndrome.

The following is a glossary of frequent terms relating to HIV/AIDS and HIV/AIDS clinical trials. A complete glossary can be found at

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) A disease of the immune system due to infection with HIV. HIV destroys the CD4 T lymphocytes (CD4 cells) of the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to life-threatening infections and cancers. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the most advanced stage of HIV infection. To be diagnosed with AIDS, a person with HIV must have an AIDS-defining condition or have a CD4 count less than 200 cells/mm3 (regardless of whether the person has an AIDS-defining condition).
Acute HIV Infection Early stage of HIV infection that extends approximately 2 to 4 weeks from initial infection until the body produces enough HIV antibodies to be detected by an HIV antibody test. During acute HIV infection, HIV is highly infectious because the virus is multiplying rapidly. The rapid increase in HIV viral load can be detected before HIV antibodies are present.
Antibody A protein produced by B lymphocytes (B cells) in response to an antigen. Antibodies bind to and help destroy antigens.
Antibody/Antigen Combination Test A type of HIV test that can detect HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies and HIV-1 p24 antigen (a protein that forms the HIV core). Antigen/antibody combination tests can detect HIV earlier than tests that only detect HIV antibodies. The test is done using a sample of blood.
Antigen Any substance that triggers an immune response. Antigens include bacteria, viruses, and allergens, such as pollen.
Antiretroviral (ARV) A drug used to prevent a retrovirus, such as HIV, from replicating. The term primarily refers to antiretroviral (ARV) HIV drugs.
Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) The daily use of a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV regimen) to treat HIV infection. A person’s initial HIV regimen generally includes three antiretroviral (ARV) drugs from at least two different HIV drug classes.
Biopsy Removal of tissue, cells, or fluid from the body for examination under a microscope. Biopsies are used to diagnose disease.
Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies (bNAbs) A type of antibody that can recognize and block many types of HIV from entering healthy cells. Broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) may also activate other immune cells to help destroy HIV-infected cells. Researchers are investigating whether bNAbs could be used to develop a therapeutic HIV vaccine.
CD4 cells A type of lymphocyte. CD4 T lymphocytes (CD4 cells) help coordinate the immune response by stimulating other immune cells, such as macrophages, B lymphocytes (B cells), and CD8 T lymphocytes (CD8 cells), to fight infection. HIV weakens the immune system by destroying CD4 cells.
CD4 cell count A laboratory test that measures the number of CD4 T lymphocytes (CD4 cells) in a sample of blood. In people with HIV, the CD4 count is the most important laboratory indicator of immune function and the strongest predictor of HIV progression. The CD4 count is also used to monitor a person’s response to antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Chronic HIV Infection The stage of HIV infection between acute HIV infection and the onset of AIDS. During chronic HIV infection, HIV levels gradually increase and the number of CD4 cells decrease. Declining CD4 cell levels indicate increasing damage to the immune system. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) can prevent HIV from destroying the immune system and advancing to AIDS.
Clinical Trial A research study that determines whether a new drug (or other intervention) is both safe and effective for humans. People volunteer to participate in clinical trials (also called interventional studies) to help find better ways to treat, prevent, diagnose, and understand human disease. Clinical trials are conducted in “phases.” Results from Phase 1, 2, and 3 trials are used to determine whether a new drug should be approved for sale in the United States. Once a new drug is approved, researchers continue to track its safety in Phase 4 trials.
Colonoscopy An outpatient procedure in which the rectum and the inside of the intestine are examined.  During a colonoscopy, a physician uses a colonoscope (a long, flexible instrument about 1/2 inch in diameter) to view the lining of the colon.  The colonoscope is inserted through the rectum and advanced to the large intestine.  A small amount of tissue will be removed for analysis, this is called a biopsy.
DART (Dual Affinity Re-Targeting molecule) Dual antibodies that engage cytotoxic T-cells with HIV infected cells.
Drug Resistance The ability of some micro-organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, to adapt so that they can multiply even in the presence of drugs that would normally kill them.
Efficacy Effectiveness of a drug or other medical intervention under ideal conditions, such as during a clinical trial. Drugs are tested for efficacy to ensure they produce the desired effect on the disease or condition being treated.
Electroporation device A device that delivers an IM vaccine with a small electric shock to increase the permeability
of the cell membrane which allows the vaccine materials to be introduced into the patient’s cells.
Eligibility Criteria Factors used to determine whether a person is eligible (inclusion criteria) or not eligible (exclusion criteria) to participate in a clinical trial. Eligibility criteria may include disease type and stage, other medical conditions, previous treatment history, age, and gender.
Elite Controllers A small subset of people living with HIV who are able to maintain suppressed viral loads for years without antiretroviral therapy (ART). However, because HIV continues to replicate even in elite controllers, ART is recommended for elite controllers who have declining CD4 counts or who develop HIV-related complications.
Hepatitis B Virus Infection (HBV) Infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBV can be transmitted through blood, semen, or other body fluids during sex or injection drug use. HBV infection progresses more rapidly in people with HBV/HIV coinfection than in people who have HBV infection alone.
Hepatitis C Virus Infection (HCV) Infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV is usually transmitted through blood and rarely through other body fluids, such as semen. HCV infection progresses more rapidly in people with HCV/HIV coinfection than in people who have HCV infection alone.
HIV-1 One of the two types of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV infection. HIV-1 is transmitted through direct contact with HIV-infected body fluids, such as blood, semen, and vaginal fluids, or from a mother who has HIV-1 to her child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding (through breast milk). HIV-1 is responsible for the majority of HIV infections worldwide. In the United States, unless otherwise noted, the term “HIV” primarily refers to HIV-1.
HXTC (HIV-1 Expanded Specific T-Cell Therapy) A patient’s own T-cells are enhanced ex-vivo to better recognize the HIV virus and are re-infused back into to patient.
Immune Modulators Immune modulators are a class of drugs that help to activate, boost, or restore normal immune function after HIV has damaged the immune system. Researchers are investigating whether immune modulators can help change how the immune system functions as part of a strategy to treat or cure HIV. Currently, the immune modulators used to treat HIV infection are still under investigation and have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for patient use.
Informed Consent A communication process between a person and a health care provider or researcher to ensure that the person understands all relevant facts associated with a medical procedure or clinical trial. Before undergoing the procedure or participating in the trial, the person must sign an informed consent form that indicates understanding of the risks and benefits involved and of the risks and benefits of other options.
Institutional Review Board (IRB) A committee of experts who review and monitor clinical trials to ensure that they are ethical and that the rights of study participants are protected.  Federal regulations dictate that any institution that conducts or supports clinical trials must have an IRB.
Investigational Drug A drug that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for testing in humans for a specified condition but not approved for commercial marketing and sale.
Kick and Kill Strategy An experimental strategy to cure HIV infection that is currently under investigation. Finding a cure for HIV is challenging because the virus can remain hidden and inactive (latent) inside certain cells of the immune system (such as CD4 cells) for months or even years. While HIV is in this latent state, the immune system cannot recognize the virus, and antiretroviral therapy (ART) has no effect on it. The shock and kill strategy is a two-step process. First, drugs called latency-reversing agents are used to reactivate latent HIV hiding in immune cells (the “shock”). The reactivated cells can then be targeted and killed by the body’s immune system or anti-HIV drugs.
Latency-Reversing Agents One of the main obstacles to curing HIV infection is that the virus can remain hidden and inactive (latent) inside certain cells of the immune system (such as CD4 cells) for months or even years. While HIV is in this latent state, the immune system cannot recognize the virus, and antiretroviral therapy (ART) has no effect on it. Latency-reversing agents reactivate latent HIV within CD4 cells, allowing ART and the body’s immune system to attack the virus. Currently, latency-reversing agents are still under investigation and have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Latent HIV Reservoir Resting CD4 cells (or other cells) that are infected with HIV but not actively producing HIV. Latent HIV reservoirs are established during the earliest stage of HIV infection. Although antiretroviral therapy (ART) can reduce the level of HIV in the blood to an undetectable level, latent reservoirs of HIV continue to survive. When a latently infected cell is reactivated, the cell begins to produce HIV again. Although ART can suppress HIV levels, ART cannot eliminate latent HIV reservoirs. For this reason, ART cannot cure HIV infection.
Leukapheresis The removal of white blood cells (leukocytes) from the peripheral blood.   The process requires access to veins in both arms.  Blood is extracted from one arm into a machine that sorts out the various blood components according to their density and weight.  White cells are removed, and the rest of the blood is returned via a needle in the other arm.   The procedure usually takes 3-4 hours.
Lumbar Puncture A procedure in which a needle is inserted into the lower region of the spinal cord to collect cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The CSF is examined in a laboratory to diagnose and monitor certain infections. A spinal tap may also be performed to inject drugs or to reduce spinal fluid pressure.
Nadir The lowest point. For example, a person’s nadir CD4 count is the person’s lowest CD4 count.
Opportunistic Infections (OIs) An infection that occurs more frequently or is more severe in people with weakened immune systems, such as people with HIV or people receiving chemotherapy, than in people with healthy immune systems.
Placebo An inactive drug (or other intervention) that is identical in appearance to a therapeutically active drug. In some clinical trials, researchers compare the effects of a placebo with those of an active drug under investigation to determine if the active investigational drug is effective.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) An HIV prevention method for people who are HIV negative and at high risk of HIV infection. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) involves taking a specific combination of HIV medicines daily. PrEP is even more effective when it is combined with condoms and other prevention tools.
 Protocol The detailed plan for conducting an experiment such as a clinical trial.  A clinical trial protocol is a lengthy document describing the trial’s rationale, purpose, information about the drug or vaccine under study, participant inclusion/exclusion criteria, study endpoints, and details of the trial design.
Rapid Test A type of HIV antibody test used to screen for HIV infection. A rapid HIV antibody test can detect HIV antibodies in blood or oral fluid in less than 30 minutes. There is also a rapid antigen/antibody test available. A positive rapid HIV antibody test must be confirmed by a second test for a person to be definitively diagnosed with HIV infection.
 Randomization When participants of a clinical trial are assigned by chance to one of two or more treatment or placebo groups.  A randomized trial design helps researchers gather meaningful information and make valid statistical calculations.
 Toxicity The extent to which a drug causes adverse effects. Drug toxicity is one of the factors considered when selecting antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to include in an HIV treatment regimen.
Treatment-Experienced When a person with HIV is currently taking or has previously taken antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.
Treatment-Naive When a person with HIV has never taken antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.
Tri-specific Antibody
A combination of 3 broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV in one molecule.
 Undetectable Viral Load When the amount of HIV in the blood is too low to be detected with a viral load (HIV RNA) test. A person’s viral load is considered “durably undetectable” when it remains undetectable for at least 6 months after a first undetectable test result. Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs may reduce a person’s viral load to an undetectable level; however, that does not mean the person is cured. Some HIV, in the form of latent HIV reservoirs, remains inside cells and in body tissues.
Vaccine A substance administered to trigger an immune response against a particular disease. Most vaccines are designed to prevent a person from ever having a particular disease or to only have a mild case of the disease. However, therapeutic vaccines are intended to treat specific diseases.
 Viral Load (VL) The amount of HIV in a sample of blood. Viral load (VL) is reported as the number of HIV RNA copies per milliliter of blood. An important goal of antiretroviral therapy (ART) is to suppress a person’s VL to an undetectable level—a level too low for the virus to be detected by a VL test.
 Virologic Failure A type of HIV treatment failure. Virologic failure occurs when antiretroviral therapy (ART) fails to suppress and sustain a person’s viral load to less than 200 copies/mL. Factors that can contribute to virologic failure include drug resistance, drug toxicity, and poor adherence to ART.
VOR (Vorinostat) An FDA approved medication for cancer that is being used experimentally as an HIV reservoir latency reversing agent.
VRC07-523LS A Potent broadly neutralizing antibody against HIV with a long half-life.