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spouse lost don't know what to do
Dec 15, 2000

I am married to a someone who has hiv. At this time he is serverlly depressed do the the increase of the viral load in his system. What do I do as a spouse to get him through this depression? He went through this before but it nerver usually last this long. It is going on two weeks now since he has been depressed and I don't know what to do. He is also very paranoid about me leaving him no matter how many times I tell him I'm in this with him for the long haul. Please give me some advise I'm so lost and don't know what to do.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

It is not your job to get him out of the depression. All you can do is insist that he take the steps necessary to take care of himself, which in this case means contacting his primary care physician and asking for a referral to a psychiatrist who is a specialist in working with people with HIV. He will then need to call the psychiatrist and make an appointment. If you want to be supportive you certainly can consider going with him to the initial consultation, or perhaps even for some ongoing couples therapy to help you both develop strategies for dealing with his illness. He needs psychotherapy and most probably anti-depressant medication as well. Simply because he has HIV and a high viral load is not a reason for him to give up being responsible for his own care. I also urge you to call your local AIDS service organization and inquire about support groups for care partners of people with AIDS. It sounds like you are under an enormous amount of stress and can use support and help from other people in the same situation. This is not a time for you to isolate yourself. Getting the support you need will help both you and your husband during this illness.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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