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Was HIV a subconscious suicide attempt?

Jul 28, 2013

Hello Dr Fawcett,

I have had schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder since 1994. I've been in and out of mental hospitals 3 times. I stopped taking my mental health meds for a while and during that time I was very compulsive, manic and living a destructive life and suicidal. My question is do you think my getting HIV was a subconscious attempt to commit suicide and do you think my mental illness played a role in me contracted HIV? I contracted HIV by self medicating with drinking and having unprotected sex.

Thank you for your feed back.

Response from Dr. Fawcett


Thanks for writing. Everyone who is HIV+ has probably spent a good bit of time wondering about the circumstances of their infection, including what they might have done differently and what their motives (conscious or not) might have been. In the end, the answer to such "why" questions really isn't as important as taking care of ourselves in the present, and that means medication adherence and good self-care. This is especially true if there is a history of a co-occurring disorder, such as in your case. Mood disorders and addictions are key factors in HIV risk and retention in care, so it's essential they be kept in check.

I encourage you to work with a mental health professional to be certain you remain motivated and an active participant in your own care. If drinking remains a concern you should attend a self help program such as AA or SMART Recovery.

Most important, if you have suicidal thoughts or a plan at the present time, it is essential that you reach out for assistance immediately.

Take care,


HIV and pregnancy
Am I infected?

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