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Work place stress

Jan 20, 2003

Hi Michael, I was diagnosed HIV positive in July 2002. The diagnosis was completely out of the blue and made from a result of a blood test i had to gain life insurance. Very unfortunately my Dr was very freaked out by this situation and rang me at my workplace to tell me of my HIV diagnosis. At the time i was in a meeting. I obviously was very distraught and subsequently told a work collegue. I have been able to keep it together to some extent at work. However i have terrible anxiety, to the point that i usually have to stop 4 to 5 times prior to getting there as i feel that i relive it each time i go there. I am currently on five weeks sick leave and due to go back next week. I don't think that i can. I am seeing a psychologist and am taking antidepressants. I feel like my position at work has been violated. I have also enrolled in a support group due to start soon. Do you have any other suggestions of how to manage this situation. I like my job and want to continue but do not see how i can at present. Thanks, Stephen

Response from Mr. Shernoff

There is not a lot that I can think of. I am confused about why your feel your position at work has been violated. You were not very clear about this.

I understand that you do not feel ready or able to return to work as of now. Perhaps you can extend your sick leave if you are not ready to return to work yet. Another option is to use the Americans with Disabilites act provision about work places needing to make reasonable accomodations to people who are disabled. Perhaps you need to think about not returning to work full time, but going for less than 8 hours each day or fewer than 5 days a week as a trial to see if you are emotionally ready to return to work.

Sorry but this is all I can come up with.

Michael Shernoff, MSW

Bi-polar & HIV positive
Deliberate Infection

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