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Coming to terms with HIV status
Nov 9, 2000

Hi Michael. I have been having a problem coming to terms with the fact that I am HIV+. I am 23, and was given the virus by a guy that I trusted and had been seeing for about 9 months. He was basically cheating on me, and I find out. Then I went to get tested, and sure enough, I had it. That was about 3 months ago. I got it from someone I trusted and said he was negative, that was the first and only guy I had been with, and doing a low risk activity as well , I just can't hardly believe it. I don't know if I should seek professional help or what, but my world basically cratered when I found out. I just got out of college, have my first job, and now everything has sort of fallen apart. I have been thinking a lot about suicide and death lately, and it scares me sometimes. What should I do?

Response from Mr. Shernoff

Since you feel like your life is falling apart and have even been thinking about suicide then of course you should seek out professional help. You sound understandably depressed and somewhat isolated in terms of your HIV-status. Please call the local AIDS service organization in order to obtain the number of a skilled mental health professional who is an expert in working with people with HIV. Call this person and set up an appointment as soon as possible. Additionally you should explore whether there are support groups for newly diagnosed people run by the AIDS service organization. YOu need to meet other people grappling with learning how to live with HIV.

Especially since you are such a young man it is imperative that you do not think that your life is over simply because you have become infected. I have been living with HIV for over 20 years am and perfectly healthy. There is no reason why you can not have a long, normal and satisfying life simply because you are infected.

Please make those phone calls today in order to get the help and support you need and deserve. Best of luck.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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