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Am I at Fault?
May 27, 2000

I am an HIV negative male. I just mutually ended a relationship with an HIV positive male. While it has been extremely hard to accept because I still love him, we both know we needed to do this. The questions I have is that he has told me now that we are over, he is "Back to the moment when he found out he had HIV." He explained that he does not want to be touched, loved or be with anyone ever again. He will not talk to anyone about his disease and has moved to another state where he can barely make ends meet. He told me to move on with my life because as long as he has this disease, we will mot be together again. I guess I should mention an occasion that I think triggered it all. We were having a discussion one day and I mentioned that there were things we did during sex that I felt uncomfortable with. I know I should not have mentioned it during a discussion but I can't change that and have apologized for it. However, I do feel that I had every right to voice my concerns. (He agrees) I can accept not being together because I know I can't change his mind. What I am worried about is that before we met, he had dreams to pursue, he was happy and looked at life with a positive glow. Now he has given up his dreams and has reclused into this life where he is unhappy. I can't help but think that if we had never met, he would still be the happy person he was before. I know he's a grown man and is responsible for his own decisions but I somehow feel guilty. Is there anything that I can say to him to help him out of this state of mind? Please help me out. I can't watch him waste his life like this. I hope you can help. Thank You.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

I am really puzzled about why you would be taking on such a burden of responsibility for another person's life. He is an adult who needs to live with his choices. There was absolutely nothing wrong with you telling him what made you feel uncomfortable. Unless he is willing to develop the supports he needs to learn to live with HIV and stop using his diagnosis as a reason to see himself as a victim he will never move on with his life. If he wastes his life then he has only himself to blame.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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