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Scared to death!
Dec 13, 1999

Hello,

My son who is 21 was in a relationship for 6 years that ended 6 months ago and has a 3 year old with this woman. We got a call the other night telling us she went to the hospital a couple of weeks ago with phnumonia and tested positive for HIV.

We are waiting on result for my son and grandaughter.... the waiting is killing us! I can't sleep at nights and when I finally do I wake up thinking about it. I find myself breaking down and crying when I am alone. I know I have to be calm around them to keep them calm.

I find myself thinking about what I will do if they are positive and what if the mother gets to sick to take care of the baby. I will need to make arrangements to make sure the baby is taken care of like she should be. I should get the mother to sign legal papers or something.. My head is spinning with thoughts and its hard to mantain and control them. I feel like it would be a death sentence for my son and grandaughter if they test positive.

My son has ask that I not tell any one..not even our family because he is afraid his friends will find out and not come around anymore. I understand his fear as I wouldn't want anyone on my job knowing either because people are so affraid of this desease that they would rather not be around it.

This waiting is killing us!

The mother does not know much as she is not very bright .. Can you tell me at what stage she might be if she has already gotten phnumonia ? She said her T-cells are still ok but didn't know any numbers and said the Doctor told her she could go the rest of her life without getting sick.

I have read enough to know that almost everyone who tests positive for HIV turns into AIDS one day. It might be 10 years or 15 but it happens. She is not on any medication at this time either.

Thanks for listening!

Response from Mr. Shernoff

I am very sorry to hear about what your family is beginning to go through now. I understand why you are so afraid but there are some concrete things you can do to help yourself both emotionally and with the concrete planing.

First find out if there is an AIDS service organization near to where you live. Call them and schedule an appointment to meet with someone to find out how your son and this woman can access servies. That way if she does have AIDS or even if she is just HIV positive, you can suggest that they go there and get counseling and conrete services. If you do not do this, then most likley you will shoulder all of the burden alone and this is not necessary. There is help available. Use it, and insist that they use it as well. You also need a group for other woman who are in the same position as you in order to gain support from others who have lived through this.

Best of luck and just be the grandmother and let other profesionals be the case manager and counselor.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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