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My friend just told me he is HIV+. What do I do?
Dec 24, 2013

My friend just told me he is HIV+. I am pretty sure I am in shock. I listened to him tell me that he found out on his birthday. He has been trying to tell me for the last two months as he wanted to tell me in person, but told me 1 hour ago.

I feel...everything...sad, mad, anger, frustration, grief...everything. I don't know what to do with myself so I find myself journaling and trying to breathe. This isn't a death sentence as it once was; I know that. I know he has access to medication as he is in the service so I know he is good on that front. I love him and I am feeling scared but kept it together so he doesn't feel bad. Is he in pain? I am driving to see him tomorrow. I can't believe it.

What do I do? I am at a loss for words.

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Thank you for writing. Hearing that someone we care about has tested HIV positive brings a flood of emotions. Despite lots of medical options and good prognoses it is not an easy road and we feel that at a deep level.

You sound like you have good listening skills and that will be most important now. Your friend doesn't need you to solve his problems, he just needs to be heard and supported. You also appear to have good skills in terms of accessing your feelings, breathing, and journaling. These are excellent resources and may be powerful tools for your friend as well.

Learning to live with HIV is a process that occurs gradually and in many phases. Having good skills and strong support will have a tremendous impact on your friend's health. Here is a list of resources for HIV-affected people (friends, family, caregivers) with useful links. I'll also include a href="http://www.thestigmaproject.org/#!untitled/zoom/c1htl/imagexj9" target=_new>link from The Stigma Project which very effectively summarizes the difference between a helpful conversation and one that can be hurtful.

Best wishes for you and your friend,

David



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