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Husband is HIV positive/me negative
Oct 11, 2004

My husband was diagnosed with AIDs a year ago last August. This past year has been pure hell for the both of us. He had so many problems due to medications and he had to have brain surgery due to a lesion. He had pancreatitus, hepetitis, numerous kidney stones and rashes all due to the medications. When diagnosed he only had a T-Cell count of 37. This past year he has improved a lot but is now developing neuropathy which is very painful. His T-cell count is about 200. I worry so very much because we honestly do not know where he got it from so I am terrified that I can get it too. I worry when he has the little nicks on his face from shaving, his chapped lips, his toothbrush since his gums bleed occassionally. He scratches his chest and back a lot and so I am forever telling him to wash his hands. He is getting pretty annoyed with me but I can't stop myself. I am terrified to get it and I don't know how to control these feelings. Our relationship has never been very good and I would really prefer to get a divorce but I am the one with medical insurance so I could never do that to him. Financially we are pretty bad off because he wasn't able to work for a long time and had to give up several contracts that he had. For me I am just so very down right now. It is as if my life is completely over and nothing to look forward to. My sisters mother-in-laws brother died from AIDS in 1995 and so she fills my head with horror storied and they seem to believe that my husband might only have a year left to live due to the progression of the disease. My sister doesn't want my husband in her pool anymore because she thinks that it can be spread that way. So my life has changed so very much and I am just miserable. Can you please give me some insight to any of these questions? Sincerely, Alone in San Diego

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Your husband was diagnosed with AIDS last August with a T-cell count of 37 and underwent brain surgery due to a lesion. He started medications, which have raised his T-cell count to 200, but his medication toxicities have been severe and have included pancreatitis, hepatitis, numerous kidney stones, rashes, and the recent onset of very painful peripheral neuropathy. He also has no medical insurance.

You, on the other hand, have medical insurance and are HIV negative. And because of all of this, you are feeling you have nothing to look forward to and that your life is completely over!?!? Hmmm, did I miss something here????

You state your relationship has never been very good (that much I believe) and that you'd like to get a divorce. You do not know "where he got it," so you are terrified you can get it too. Your sister (hopefully out of sheer ignorance rather than cruelty) doesn't want your husband in her pool, because she thinks that it can be spread that way. Of course it cannot, and chances are your sister has been informed of this medical reality, right? Your sister's mother-in-law's brother died of AIDS in 1995 and "so she fills your head with horror stories?" Hmmm, what a nice family you have!

Can I give you some insight into "any of these questions?" What questions? You really didn't ask any. The person I feel most sorry for in this scenario is your husband, as he is not only valiantly attempting to cope with enormous medical challenges, but also having to put up with your self-centered insensitivity and your family's ignorance or outright cruelty.

There is no doubt you are depressed by your current situation and irrational fears of HIV disease. How this disease is transmitted or not transmitted is well known. If you have fears about swimming pools, shaving nicks, chapped lips or dirty hands, have you discussed these issues with your husband's HIV/AIDS specialist? If so, you should well understand that HIV is not transmitted by casual contact. If you haven't discussed these concerns with him, why haven't you? Perhaps you would benefit form joining a local support group in San Diego or getting some counseling to help you cope with your current situation. Contact your local AIDS service organizations to find out what resources are available in your area. If you and your family cannot overcome your irrational fears and learn to deal with your husband and his illness in a decent (and hopefully compassionate) manner, some type of separation (hopefully in a way to at least maintain his health insurance) should be considered. I sincerely hope, for both of your sakes, that this would not be necessary. Please do me the favor of advising your husband of this website. Perhaps we can offer him some much needed love and support.

Dr. Bob


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