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Telling friends?
Jun 23, 2001

Dear Mr.Michael Shernoff! I am a young man who got to know that I am HIV positive for 2 months ago.It is seems that I can deal with the idea that I am HIV positive.Even I am still depress but in a lighter form. I am thinking about telling my close friends about it or not?I am afraid that the news will spred out and people will talk about me behind my back. The only person I told about it is my boyfriend.He is now 100 negative(it was 3 months ago we had sex last).But he lives in another country( I am from Europe) and we havent seen each other for 3 months.Actually it was his idea not to tell anybody. Can you recomend anything? Do you have a personal experiense about it?

Thanks a lot.

Svend.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

Living with a secret is very hard and shows that a person is ashamed of what ever it is about himself that he is not sharing with other people. This is never good for a person's emotional, psychological or spiritual health. Being HIV-positive is not anything to be ashamed of! You need all the support that friends and your family can provide you with. They will not be able to be supportive if they do not know what is going on with you.

Of course people will talk about this. But so what? What difference does that make? If anyone will stop being your friend because of your being infected with HIV, wouldn't you rather know this than not? Of course that will be a big disappointment to you and painful to you as well, but if they are not going to rally around you then they were not a good friend in the first place.

I urge you to begin by telling your family and some select friends. I am sure that it will make you nervous to tell them this information, but it will also make you stronger. My experience in telling people that I am infected with HIV is that not everybody, but the vast majority of people in my life have not allowed that to make any difference to our relationships. I was rejected by one very selfish and bigoted part of my family to whom I had previously been very close. That was and remains a painful abandonment. But the overwhelming love and support I regularly get from everyone else has more than made up for that one unkind act by those three people.

I hope that you do begin to tell the important people in your life and that you find that it only brings you closer to them.

Best of luck.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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