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Giving Back Through Research

By Ed Perlmutter

December 7, 2015

Since my HIV diagnosis in July 2006, I've been connected to the Infectious Diseases Clinic at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and have participated in three National Institutes of Health studies under the umbrella of the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG). I am in very good hands.

"It makes me feel like I'm giving back."

That's what I told the producer from WCVB Channel 5, Boston's ABC affiliate, when he came to my home last week to get my perspective on being involved with BWH and ACTG, and I meant it. I was more than happy to share my HIV journey for the World AIDS Day segment Channel 5 was producing.

The BWH is where Dr. Dan Kuritzkes and other HIV/AIDS researchers and clinicians continue their work on HIV drug resistance, emerging antiretroviral therapies, and a cure. I am but one participant at one ACTG study site -- in total, there are 55 sites in the US and in resource-limited countries. But I can certainly speak to my unique experiences as an HIV patient and study participant. And while I may be a drop in the clinical trials study bucket, so to speak, the blood and other data collected from me and other ACTG participants has been used to study the efficacy of various medication regimens, identify strategies to reduce inflammation in people with HIV through the use of aspirin, and is now helping to analyze myriad data as people with HIV age. I am grateful to be counted among that (aging) group!

In what ultimately became a two-minute television news segment, much of what I shared during my interview clearly wound up in the digital circular file. But I am hopeful that between what Dr. Kuritzkes and I had to say about testing, treatments, and the future, we were able to help the viewing public think about HIV in ways that they never had before.

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An Accidental Activist

Ed Perlmutter

Ed Perlmutter

Ed Perlmutter was diagnosed with HIV in July 2006, and has been receiving HIV therapy through a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study since September 2006. He lives with his partner in an old farmhouse on the city limits of Boston, in the woods, amongst critters and varmints and dozens of varieties of dahlias. When he is not raising awareness as an accidental activist, he is a graduate student in health communication at Emerson College and works as a textbook publishing consultant.

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