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How do we help (and cope)?

Oct 27, 2005

I just found out a family member has tested positive. He is 34 yrs. old. He has "very religious" parents who may not be supportive. What should the rest of the family do and how should we prepare for this?

Response from Dr. Horwath

The main thing that you can provide is emotional support, acceptance and a non-judgmental attitude. I'm not sure that being very religious necessarily means that his parents will not be supportive. If their religion teaches love and compassion for those with an illness, maybe they can suspend moral judgments. If not, then maybe you can be helpful by speaking to them.

Some people regard HIV as a punishment for immoral behavior. It may be helpful to point out that a person with HIV infection already is faced with the consequences of past actions, and that they don't need to have harsh moral judgments or condemnation heaped upon them at an already difficult time. Hopefully, a believer in a religion that teaches kindness and concern for those who are suffering from illness would be able to hear this message.

Too emotional
HIV a negative side-effect of mental illness

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