This is Part 2 of a 20-part series
For many who receive a medical death sentence, life comes to a screeching halt while the pace of time seemingly accelerates. For David Patient, HIV/AIDS meant that life was just beginning.
Patient was a rare phenomenon. As a sensitive, emotionally tormented, suicidal young man, the twenty-two year old realized that not only did he want to live, but the virus inside of him wanted to live too. Thus, in 1983, Patient and his disease (which was baffling medical researchers worldwide) became allies.
After his initial diagnosis as terminal, Patient moved from his home in Las Vegas to Florida. There, in 1986, he participated in the very first human trials of an antiretroviral (ARV) drug referred to as AZT (azidothymidine). Patient quickly became ill from side effects. Consequently, he and one other person dropped out of the trials.
As of 2004, at the time of Patient co-authoring the book, The Healer Inside You, he and the other person who had dropped out of the AZT trials were the only two people of the initial trial still alive. Patient later learned that the deaths were not from the drug itself, but from the high dosages administered in the early trials.
Also in the late 80s, Patient abruptly ended the use of illicit drugs, which he had engaged in for years to numb chronic depression. This led to productive decisions such as learning to become a chef, attending support groups for people with HIV/AIDS, and getting certified as a hypnotherapist – a skill which empowered Patient to help people with HIV/AIDS manage pain and suffering as they died.