When Vincent stopped rollerblading half way to his gym and removed his skates, he sensed that the extreme exhaustion he felt might be a sign that his fifteen-year, controlled HIV had progressed. His breathing worsened when he was in the emergency room. He was admitted with pneumonia and had only 8 T lymphocytes.
"I was scared and embarrassed because I lacked adequate health insurance. There was no way to afford HIV medications," Vincent said. His doctor suggested participation in an ACTG Clinical Research Trial that compared taking four medications instead of three.
"Being screened and qualified for the study was more enjoyable than I imagined," Vincent said. "The nurses and doctors were wonderful and became friends. I always thought clinical trials made you feel like a number, but this experience was warm and caring. The staff remain friends to this day, years after my study ended. Looking back, I realize they saved my life, allowing me to watch my grandchildren grow to adolescents."
Situations and experiences like Vincent's are not uncommon. "Patients have serious and life-threatening diseases. They're afraid. They want some options, but they're not sure where to go. We try to provide the information and alternatives that patients and their families need to make important decisions in such difficult situations," said an ACTG Principal Investigator.
A PowerPoint slide presentation about Why Clinical Research is Important to Persons with HIV/AIDS (PPT - 794 KB) can be viewed to learn more about the clinical trials process.