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AIDS is hurting our family

Nov 13, 2002

My brother was diagnosed HIV+ in 1986. Our family just found out he has AIDS. He has told our family he does not have long to live. He is acting crazy, having seizures, won't rest, is becoming very confrontational, standing on street corners panhandling, we don't know how to help him, his doctor will not do anything for him or us, what should we do?

Response from Mr. Shernoff

Do you know if his doctor is an AIDS specialist? Whether or not he is, he is obivbously not responsive enough to your brother's condition, which sounds as if he is exhibiting symptoms of HIV that is now causing neuropsychiatric symptoms.

our brother needs a consultation with a neurologist who is an expert in working with people with AIDS. If his primary care MD won't refer him to one, call the local AIDS organization and ask them for a referral to a new primary care doctor who is an AIDS specialist as well as to an AIDS expert neurologist and psychiatrist. There are treatments today that if your brother will take them, and that is a big if, only because he sounds like he is not totally there mentally, that can help lessen some or even most of these symptoms.

But if he is resistant to getting help there is not alot that you can do for him besdies urging him to let you or another family memeber take him for good care.

Also it sounds as if your family could use a support group for people who have a family member with AIDS. When you call the local AIDS organization ask them if they have such a group. If they do, I urge your family to sign up today to get help and support from other families living with a loved one who has AIDS.

Good luck with this terribly difficult situation.

Michael Shernoff, MSW

Using CBT to treat HIV+ men who have sex with men

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