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Son with new HIV diagnosis

May 25, 2008

Dr. Horwath, My son's brothers and sister are entirely supportive of my son but we see him not taking care of himself, like partying and drinking all night. He states he is on vacation and needs to do this. I am angry as are his siblings that he is acting like this. He is not on medication yet. He is leaving his job in LA to go to NY and is ignorant to the cost of medication and care. I never fought with him but do all the time now. I find myself hanging up on him because he just "doesn't want to think about that now". I am so angry when he portrays himself as a "victim" that I just hang up. It is like this shouldn't affect me or the people who love him. Is this normal and are there support groups online for parents trying to deal with these types of situations. He is not a kid he is 28 years old.

Response from Dr. Horwath

You are in a very difficult and painful situation. Your son has HIV, but is not taking care of himself and not taking it seriously. Unfortunately, you do not have the power to make him behave differently right now. You can talk to him and let him know that you are willing to help and be available for him, but he has to decide for himself if he will seek help. Your anger is understandable, but probably won't be helpful to him or to you. For him, your anger may just push him away. For you, it will cause more pain.

He needs to come around to deciding he will face this problem. Let him know that when he does, you will be there.

Meanwhile, there are some organizations that might help you. The National Family Caregivers Association maintains a very informative website and also provides a means of networking with other families in similar situations. Try visiting their website:

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