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Aug 27, 1999

Michael, my partner is HIV+ and was diagnosed as bi-polar before we met. Recently, depression has been the more serious problem. Could you recommend some books or articles that will help me learn how to better deal with this in light of his positive status. He is under a doctor's care for his medications, and I'm working on him to resume counseling. I've learned that he has to think the idea is his before he does what he needs to do. Thank you in advance for your recommendations.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

Sorry, but I don't know of any specific references that I can suggest to help you deal with his depression as an HIV+ man. I do think that you may need to take a hard line about his going into therapy. My suggestion is to just be relentless in telling him how his depression is impacting upon you and the relationship and that you can not fix this, and that by being on the meds he is only doing half of what he needs to do in order to get better. A reluctance to take actions that will improve his life is symptomatic of depression and may indicate that he is not yet at a therapeutic level of his meds.

I am concerned that perhaps his primary care doctor is prescribing the anti-depressants. This is not an optimal situation. If this is the case, you might also try calling the doctor and ask him to refer your partner to an MD psychopharmacologist who is an expert in both depression and HIV. Your partner needs a combination of talk therapy and drugs in order to get better.

Good luck. Michael Shernoff, MSW



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