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Dear Michael

May 17, 2000

hi. I hope you remember me. I know you receive and answer a lot of questions. I recently wrote to you "i need help"; I told you I found out that an ex-boyfriend died of AIDS. I slept with him when I was 15, I am now 25. I thought about what you told me. I have since been tested and of course I am positive. I must go for a full test and physical. I am slipping away from reality so fast I can feel myself losing control of everything. You seem to have everything together -- how? I have slept with two people in my life and now I have AIDS.. (given that I was infected 10 years ago) I just finished grad school.. being a single mother it wasn't easy but I knew I had to do it for our future. What do I do next? Where do I go? who will listen to me rant and rave about my self pity? I want to be happy and full of love for life again, is there hope? Oh god I wish I could talk to somebody else Who went through this. I am sorry for taking up your time. I visited your web site and you seem to share a lot of the same views as I do. If you could kindly let me know of some therapists that deal with these kind of situations in the Pittsburgh (PA) area? My philosophy in life was always that life is too short to be unhappy so no matter what one's situation is just be happy for what you have. I can't though.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

I am very sorry to hear that you indeed tested positive, but please remember that having HIV or even AIDS today is only rarely a death sentence. Yes you do have a POTENTIALLY life threatening disease, but with proper medical care and a good mental attitude you may very well live long enough to see your child grow up.

You really must call the local AIDS service organization in Pittsburg. I do not know its name but it should not be difficult to find. Call them and tell them you need to become a client. Ask them for a woman's support group and an individual counselor. This will be a great place to get the support you need from other people living with this condition. I do not know any therapists in Pittsburg, but you can also ask someone at the AIDS organization there, and they will have names of people to refer you to. Best of luck and learn everything you can about HIV in order to become the most educated and self empowered person living with HIV that you can be. You owe it both to yourself and to your child to spend the time and energy to do this.

Michael Shernoff, MSW

suicide & HIV

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