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Feeling down
Jul 13, 2008

Hi Dr. Horwarth. I'm a 22yo male from Argentina, who is currently feeling very depressed about his current situation.

I'm a regular guy, just turned 22, my life's OK, but I just can't get this out of my head. I got infected with HIV about a year ago, diagnosed last December, and I was strangely calm for the months after I found out. I got infected because someone I was dating convinced me to have unprotected sex, which was stupid from me and I assume the consequences.

But right now I'm feeling so down. I feel like everything's useless, that no one is ever going to love me because of this, this thing I have in my blood which I can't take control of.

I was always a mature person, my family and friends back me up and support me, but I just don't know what to do. I'm so afraid I won't live past the age of 30. I have so many plans, so many things I want to do.

I know it's stupid. I know people living with HIV have a longer life expectancy nowadays. But it just feels as if I'm just waiting for the day I get sick.

I know I need psychiatric help, and I'll get it, because I also know there's no point in feeling like this. But it just feels so strange knowing that my life will never be the same. That I'm not a child anymore and that I can't go around acting as if I was undestructable.

I guess this is not really a question, but just a way of saying how HIV makes me feel. People I didn't really know that well and to whom I exposed my situation have backed away from me. And the social stigma feels so strong.

Is this really normal? Being so desperate about HIV? I just don't know how to handle things.

Response from Dr. Horwath

You are experiencing anxiety and depression, which is not unusual for a person in a situation like yours. Your concerns are understandable, but right now they are just getting the better of you. You should get help from a well-trained mental health professional, like a psychiatrist or psychologist, preferably one with experience in the field of HIV. You will find that talking about your feelings will help a lot. The doctor should also be able to perform an evaluation to see if you need some more specific treatment for your anxiety and depression, like a specific type of therapy or medication.

Many people have been through the emotional turmoil that you are feeling now. You may also be able to find a group in which you can share some of these feelings. You will discover that you are not alone and that you will get through this, like many others have before you.



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