She added, “Pastor Lance told me he wanted me to meet this group. However, when he said research, I thought to myself, ‘here we go again.’ However, he talked me into meeting the group and it was Dr. Mullins and The PATIENTS Program. Dr. Mullins asked if I was interested, and I said ‘no’, given all I had gone through. But he didn’t give up.”
Graham shared what changed her “no” to “yes.”
“The PATIENTS Program had a table at one of the church’s events. I figured I would put them on the side and watch them. I had taken my eyes off of them for a moment and I turned around and saw their members sitting at the table and holding hands and listening to people at the event. They had me.”
Dr. Mullins also recalled their early beginnings.
“Gail made it a point to say she had no interest in working with us,” said Dr. Mullins. “There is such an historical distrust of universities that we should expect people might be hesitant to work with us. However, once she saw we could help HIV patients live healthier lives, she became an ally. It took some time, but now she is one of our biggest fans. It’s a reminder to the research community that it takes time, but in the end it’s worth it.”
When she was first diagnosed, Graham had to take a “cocktail” of pills; now, she takes a single pill a day – and her viral load is undetectable. With the help of Dr. Mullins, she also published in The British Medical Journal,
“The PATIENTS Program has helped me with what I wanted to do, and that is educating people about HIV and AIDS,” said Graham. “ I am able to tell my story about how you can live a long and healthy life with HIV. The program has also allowed me to travel nationally, publish, and most of all educate. All of this came through my connection with The PATIENTS Program.”