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How can I help my family?
Aug 4, 2002

Mr. Shernoff I've known about my hiv status for the past 10 years. I've acknowledged it and have been honest with family, friends and potential partners. Recently, I have had to be honest with myself about it. Since I'm no longer suffering from cranal-anal impactation, I have begun working with my doctor and a psychologist. Needless to say, there are many issues I'm working on, but this is the question I am having now. My mother has known about my status since the get go. She's been a real trooper and very supportive, but I found out from other family members that the worry over my health issues has affected her health. (she has her own health issues and has elected not to tell me about them as to not add worry or stress to me.) I feel guilty enough as it is having had to share this news with my family, but to hear that it's adding to my mothers problems is tearing me up even more. How can I help my family deal with the changes that I may be faced with? Thank You

Response from Mr. Shernoff

Your family area all adults. All you can do is urge them to talk with you about their feelings and concern so as they can share it and try to find strength as a family during a difficult period that affects all of you. Your mother may also need to consult with a skilled therapist to help her manage her own feelings. She may also benefit from a supoort group for parents whose adult children are living with HIV/AIDS.

You can make these various suggestions to her and urge her to follow through. If she does not then you need to gently confront her wanting to be a martyr rather than seek help that will improve her quality of life. Tell her how much you love her, and how much her support means to you. But that you are very concerned about her and becasue you love her so much want her to get all the help she needs. Also try to enlist your other family members in this process.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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