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Bi-polar & HIV positive
Jan 18, 2003

My brother is Hiv positive , he no longer is interested in any thing he was before. All he does is stay in the bed 18 hours a day. He says all the Bi-ploar med. they have doesn`t seem to help him, so he isn`t taking it either. His stomach looks like those starving children that you see on T.V. from the 3rd world countries. Is he getting close to the last stages of Aids, or into the stages of AIDS period? We have all been trying to help him but he seems to not want it. He shaks when he`s up and doesn`t eat enough to feed a bird. He want tell us any thing, so I was hoping you might could help us to understand. Please give me some info!

Response from Mr. Shernoff

I am not a doctor so it is not possible for me to answer your question. I suggest that you contact his primary care physician and ask him or her all the questions you asked me. The person who has been taking care of him medically is the person who you should discuss this with.

It certainly sounds like your brother is very depressed. Not taking the medication that he is prescribed may be contributing to how little motivation he has to eat or do anything. But again, perhaps he is nearing his death and just shutting down. This is why I urge you to call his doctor and have a family conference with him or her to get some answers and insights.

You can also call the psychiatrist who presecribed the medication for his bipolar illness to discuss the situation with him or her and see if you can come up with some kind of family intervention.

In any case, this is obviously a very difficult time for him as well as you and rest of the family. Remember that if he is approaching death, then it may not be helpful to try and get him to take more aggresive care of himself. To evaluate all of this is why I strongly suggest your family meet with his doctor to get a sense of what may be going on, and develop a plan for the best way to care for him and take care of all of you emotionally. If he is near to dying then I suggest you ask the doctor to help arrange for hospice care. This can be either at a hospital or more often at home. Hospice care is a wonderful combination of services for the patient who is dying and his family.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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