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What caused me to start committing crimes?
Aug 14, 2012

I was diagnosed with HIV in 1990 and in 1997 I had full blown aids. I recovered but things got real bad again last year. Up until two years ago I'd been a law abiding citizen most of my life and now I'm facing prison time for first time in my life for numerous burglaries I've committed over the past year. I don't know why I'm doing it. I've always worked for everything I've owned till now. Please help me understand what's gone wrong with my mind.

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Thanks for writing. Such behaviors are, of course, extremely serious. HIV-related disorders of the central nervous system (which include HIV dementia, HIV encephalopathy, HIV-associated dementia and HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder) can certainly affect mood and behavior, although I don't know to what extent they might explain specific criminal behaviors. Severe forms of these disorders have been greatly reduced with newer medications, but research suggests that one's lowest CD 4 count (nadir) is more predictive than current CD 4 levels. Since you were diagnosed in the 1990s, I would expect that your t-cell count was at one time quite low. Speak with your physician about your concerns. A neurocognitive assessment could help determine the extent to which you might be experiencing one of these disorders.

Good luck,

David



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