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Getting on with life
Aug 27, 1997

I am sure that this is probably a fairly popular question, but I am scared to get on with my life. I found out I was positive in Feb of 96. I used to have a full time job but never liked it I quit and found out awhile later that I was positive. I haven't worked since 95 and it took me awhile to realize that I wasn't going to die. But I have always remained skeptical of new treatments, I am currently taking AZT, 3TC and Indinavir, I live in Canada and get a disability pension which isn't always enough. My problem is I need something more. I did some volunteer work at an AIDS organization, but was frequently depressed by alot of the people around me. I would like to go to college, but am scared to lose my pension and I sometimes think what is the point? I guess that I'm too scared to hope in case the drugs stop working. But I really want to do something with my life.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

You have not mentioned how you are physically feeling, how much energy you have and how your viral loads are. So it is difficult to assess whether or not you feel like you have the physical stamina to begin college. You are honest and like so many others, worry that perhaps the triple combination may stop working. Of course this is a possibility. But you sound ready to resume a life not centered around having HIV. You need to do some research to find out whether your disability pension will be stopped if you return to college. If it will not stop, then why not try to take one or two classes and see how you feel? It certainly would provide you with more stimulation than not doing anything. I admire the fact that you tried volunteering at an AIDS organization. This kind of work is not for everyone, and it was wise to stop if it was depressing you. But there must certainly be other organizations either in the gay community or where you live that would like to have a dedicated, intelligent person volunteer. People need to create meaning in their lives, and satisfying work, whether paid or volunteer is one way of accomplishing this. Let's say you do start college and enjoy it, and then you get too ill to continue. What's the worst thing then? At least you will have had the courage and self-respect to have tried something and to be fully alive while you were able. Are you in a support group? This is a very frequent topic of conversation in support groups. Perhaps you can find some ideas or guidance from other people with AIDS who are wrestling with the same issue.

Best of luck.



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