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Long-term survivors (INSPIRING STORIES)
Apr 13, 2010

The desperation of the last question you addressed (from the gentleman who no longer wishes to live) compelled me to write. I have been HIV since 1982 and as long as I have followed my doctor's treatment, I remain healthy. Imagine: in just a few years I can say I have been HIV positive for 30 years! When I was diagnosed, I was advised to have an abortion because I was not expected to live more than a year. How wrong those doctors were! How strange that my HIV status has actually given me a deep sense of gratitude; I feel so lucky to be alive! Like the man who wrote before, my TCells have been below 100 and I have been homeless, suffered and overcame addictions,went through horrible side effects from treatments, and had my share of losses....but I survived, so I know others can, too. My question is--I want to give other people hope, but I am not sure of myself. I would like to write my story, but if it is published, everyone will know I am HIV (a fact I have hidden from my friends, colleagues, and community all these years). Am I brave enough? I quit my teaching job a year ago, but haven't made much progress with my memoir and I think it is because of the shame/fear involved. What do you think???

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Thank you for taking the time to write and share your inspiring story! Just by posting this brief synopsis I'm quite sure others reading your testimonial will be enlightened and encouraged. Wouldn't you have appreciated reading something like this three decades ago?!?

Regarding your memoir, I'd suggest you write it, whether or not you ultimately choose to publish it! I would also suggest you write a chapter (and do some research) on HIV stigma, which can cause HIVers to feel guilt, shame, fear and a host of other negative and destructive emotions. Once you write that chapter, my guess is that your decision whether or not to publish it or finally disclose your status (and inspirational story) to "friends, colleagues and community" will become much clearer! There are a number of other memoirs you might want to check out. A few of my personal favorites include: "My Name is Mary: A Memoir" by Mary Fisher and "Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir" by Paul Monette.

Good luck! Send me a signed copy of the book!

Dr. Bob


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