Trial recruiter scans Craigslist personals for HIV subjects

A clinical trial recruiter in Boston spends part of his workday reading personal ads on Craigslist. But he's no slacker.

Coco Cuizon-Alinsug of the Fenway Health Vaccine Studies clinic is looking for HIV-negative subjects for a vaccine trial. He's become adept at identifying those who appear to fit the target profile based on signs of risky behavior in their ads. He replies to the ads using language approved by Fenway's institutional review board, and provides a link to the clinic's Internet site and an email address for replies. 

Fenway's effort is one of the growing number of examples of researchers using social media for trial recruitment. The clinic is one of 13 currently recruiting 1,350 subjects for a study by the HIV Vaccine Trials Network at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The network is also placing ads on Facebook and online gay meeting sites. The ads integrate with such traditional outreach as transit ads and posters.

In other social media efforts, an AIDS activist blogs about his experiences as a clinical trial subject. And some online communities that aid recruitment efforts also have begun offering tools that researchers can use for trial data collection and reporting.

- here's the announcement