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Life and Death Continued
May 29, 1997

Dr. Galant I just want to thank you for your articulate anwswer to the May1st statement by a reader. I have heard his philosophy many times, and I am afraid it has lead some friends to the conclusion you are better off without care and to do nothing. I'm a long term survivor, 15years, tested+in 84, but no risk since 1982, can say I wouldn't be here without the skilled care I have received from my doctors. I have zero CD4 cells for three years, and an AIDS diagnosis for seven years, but still am relatively healthy acting and looking. Thanks docs

Response from Dr. Gallant

You're welcome, and thank you.

A patient of mine pointed out another problem with the philosophy posed in that original question "Life or Death" which I failed to address. There are plenty of people who argue that those who take medications are killing themselves, while those who do something else (meditate, take vitamins, visualize T-cells, whatever) are destined to be the true survivors. I find that such people can sometimes be rather dogmatic and self-righteous about their belief system. Unfortunately, such a philosophy can lead to self-blame and guilt in much the same way as the philosophy of those who believe that AIDS is God's punishment.

In other words, if you have HIV infection and you progress and get sick, it's because you didn't ascribe to the right belief system. You didn't visualize hard enough, or spend enough money on alternative therapies. You listened to your doctor instead of your herbalist. It's YOUR FAULT!

There are already enough people out there telling you that AIDS is your fault, the last thing you need is to hear it from other infected people. Just as AIDS is a disease, not a divine punishment, the speed at which you progress will be determined heavily by a combination of factors that you can control (antiretroviral therapy) and factors that you can't control (your genetic make-up, the strain of the virus, what drugs you've taken in the past, and dumb luck ).

If you have 50 T-cells and the guy next to you in the support group has 500, it's probably not because he's a better person. You don't have to be happy about it, but you also don't need to blame yourself for it.



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