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My partner has HIV and has given up

Jan 12, 2012

Hi Dr. Fawcett,

I am in a discordant relationship with a 10-year positive mate. He has given up and I don't know what to do. He eats very healthy, which is good for his body, but he is an alcoholic. He also has testicular cancer. He is not on HAART and is having mental issues. He won't try. I don't know what else to do. I think the HIV and drinking are making him lose his mind. I need some suggestions...

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Thanks for writing. I'm sorry to hear about your friend. At times living with HIV seems overwhelming. The virus can cause depression, as can individual circumstances faced by each person living with the virus. All this is certainly made much worse by overconsumption of alcohol. Any active addiction will gradually consume hope, the will for self care, and motivation in general. Of course, it also wreaks havoc physically and undermines our immune system.

Your friend could obviously benefit from therapy and other forms of support. I suspect he is resistant. He is not going to make much progress unless the alcohol issue is addressed. Thousands have found help with Alcoholics Anonymous and/or SMART Recovery.

You might want to speak with a counselor yourself about ways that you could assist him in getting the help he needs. It could be particularly helpful to find a professional trained in motivational interviewing, a non-judgmental technique that works with a client to help them develop their own reasons for improving their situation, including getting sober and taking medication.

Finally, please take care of you! Caregivers are at great risk for high levels of stress and even getting sick themselves. Check out Al-Anon, a support group for persons living with alcoholics. It could provide you with a lot of assistance.

Take care,


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