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My dad has AIDS
Dec 13, 2004

I recently discovered my Dad has been living with AIDS for 8 years now, but he doesnt know that I know. Growing up I knew that something had changed in my family environment because my Dad emotionally withdrew from my mom, my sister, and myself. I never would have guessed that he had AIDS. I am relieved to have an answer for his withdrawal, which is probably his coping mechanism, but I am struggling with what step to take next. I'd like to talk to my Dad and let him know that I am aware that he has AIDS and that he is probably gay; and despite all the hurt, betrayal, disappointment that I feel for my Mom, Sister, and him I still love him so much, but I don't know if it is the right thing to do. It seems that he chose not to tell me for a reason, and I'd like to respect that. But since my Dad has emotionally withdrawn from our family I have missed him, and I want him back. Please give me some guidance, I feel that I will have to be the strong in the family in the future because If I tell my Dad that I know then I could be opening a huge can of worms! (And yes my mom and sister know he has AIDS, but I see that they may not be ready to cope with it yet. Nor have we talked about this as a family.)

Response from Dr. Horwath

There is no easy way to broach the subject. If your mother and sister know about his HIV status, then why not start by speaking to them about it. Maybe your mother has a better understanding of his withdrawal from the family and wasn't ready to tell you at a younger age. Perhaps she is more ready to talk about it now.

Perhaps the best way to approach him is to let him know that you would like more of a relationship with him. You don't need to start by jumping right into the most sensitive issue. Start by talking about less emotionally charged matters.

Also, I don't think you should assume that he is gay. HIV infection occurs among heterosexual and homosexual people.



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