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Possible dementia
Jan 20, 2000

My partner and I are both hiv positive. He is male, I'm female. He is way more progressed than me. I've noticed considerable increase in erratic thinking and emotions and forgetfulness and lack of concentration and sudden anger in him. He'll say something and an hour later say he never said such a thing. He has changed his mind back and forth innumerable times about big and small things recently and it's hard to keep up with what he may be thinking. I've read other answers to questions like mine but they always involve one's suggesting to the other party that he (or she) get a complete neurological check up and cat scan etc. - however if the person does not acknowledge that anything's wrong what can I do. How long do I try to live with this increasingly disappearing common sense. I don't see that there is any legal intervention I can do and I feel morally bound to just stay with him in the event that I can help though he gets frighteningly angry often. He gets his care through the VA and rarely actually sees a doctor, no longer having the patience to do other than get the print out of his blood work. He has been told he has Hepatitis C and tells me it is C negative but neither of us know what that means. I am feeling very captive in this situation not knowing how much of his behaviour is due to the illness and at what point I will know that he needs hospitalization if he doesn't know it himself. I know you can't tell me what to do but I hope you can say something toward a solution for me. I am frightened.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

I am sorry but I do not see any solution in the situation you describe due to your passivity and unwillingness to confront him or to even consider the possibility of leaving. The only suggestion would be to call his doctor at the VA and explain the situation and then perhaps ask the doctor if he or she could insist on seeing him before giving authorization for either blood work or more prescriptions. If your partner is not taking his antiretroviral drugs than that could definitely be contributing to his mental and emotional deterioration. By refusing to give yourself the out of taking care of yourself by even considering leaving him and be willing to confront him with the possibility of your leaving since his mental and emotional state are so disagreeable and are worsening, you are not helping him or the situation. Your behavior is enabling him to continue to get worse and poor you, just feels trapped and like a victim. You are not powerless in this situation, so stop behaving as if you are.

If you really do care about him then take some risks aimed at helping him and you. It won't be easy, but it is the only way there is even any possibility for things to get better. Are you in your own support group? If not it certainly sounds like you need other women in similar situation to talk with. Call your local AIDS service organization in order to enroll in a support group for women with AIDS.

MIchael Shernoff, MSW



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