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I think I need help
Dec 26, 1999

dear michael, I'm married to a HIV+ person. He's a hemophiliac who has had HIV for 14+ years(since he was 13) He was in serious denial for many years. I found out a year and a half ago that he was HIV+. I love him and I forgive him. At first I went through alot of sadness and education(I educated myself & him)Then I thought it was just another thing that "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" Now, I have alot going on in my life. The thought of possibly not having a child makes me very emotional. I feel like I'm consumed with it, I can't go anywhere without thinking about it church, store,etc... I start to cry when a song comes on the radio or I'm watching TV. I talk to my husband but I don't want to make him feel bad. I appear to others as a strong person, but I feel like I'm falling apart. Sometimes I get mad, but mainly just sad. Where do I go? Who should I talk to? We're safe, but I get the feeling since he's had it for so long and never needed meds and is very healthy...he thinks he's invincible. How do you tell someone you love that you're afraid he might kill you?

Thank you for listening, any advice would be helpful.

signed, sad

Response from Mr. Shernoff

If your marriage is indeed strong then it can tolerate your having difficult talks about this crucial issue. You must share all of your feelings with him, or else you will shut down emotionally to him and the marriage will be doomed. If you are not able to do this on your own, then you need to see a couples counselor who is skilled in working with couples where one or both are HIV infected.

Research conducted by The Couples Project at the New York Psychiatric Institute by Dr. Robert Remien has shown that many mixed HIV antibody status couples do not talk enough about how one of them being infected is affecting each of them and their relationship. If you do not begin to open up this area for discussion it will be the proverbial pink elephant that is in your home that no body acknowledges and just tip toes around. For your own mental and emotional health, your husbands and the integrity of your marriage you have to stop trying to protect him, and yourself from all the feelings that will accompany dealing honestly with this issue.

It will not be easy, but this must happen. The sooner the better. Michael Shernoff, MSW



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