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life not very fulfilling
Apr 29, 2003

Dear Dr. Shernoff,

I am 37 yr old wm (look 47) with HIV for about 7 yrs. I am currently on a drug holiday until my CD4's drop below 400. I have resistance to some meds and the ones that work have both short-term and long term side effects. In general the ones that work make me feel shitty! Over the years, my body has changed, facially, and limbs. My self-esteem no longer exsists, I feel people know when they see me. I used to be a handsome guy. I don't get attention anymore based on looks. I am not really depressed, but I may become when drugs are reinstated. So, then on top of everything else, you don't feel well while taking drugs. I would like to have someone special in my life. But, I dont make myself available. Is it best disclose immediatley when aquainting, or string them along a few dates or so? I appreciate any input.

MJ in Denver.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

There is no rule to follow regarding when is the best time to disclose one's HIV status. The way you ask about possibly stringing them along is very revealing about how you feel about yourself and that HIV is a real disability. While not minimizing how having HIV can make meeting men and ating extra difficult, it is not an insurmountable barrier to doing so.

There are support groups for people living with HIV in Denver that would be very useful for you to attend both for support and as a possbile way of meeting other positive men to date. Many AIDS service organizations hold social events where postive guys can meet one another as well as offer publications in which to place or respond to personal advertisements. You can also put a personal ad on line and be honest about your HIV status in your profile. I know many poz guys who have met one another or even a negative partner through these resources.

Best of luck.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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