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What about survivor's guilt: long term AIDS survivors

Aug 6, 1997

Is there any research or information available about survivor's guilt; those with HIV or AIDS who become long term survivors? Especially in light of the new medication therapies and idea of AIDS shifting from terminal to chronic.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

Dr. Walt Odets has written extensively about survivor guilt of HIV negative men in his book Life in the Shadows: Being HIV-Negative in the Age of AIDS (1994). A little has been written about the survivor guilt of people who are long term survivors and nonprogressors. I briefly discuss it in the article I wrote for the March, 1997 issue of Body Positive. This is a very newly emerging area that I am not aware has been extensively researched. The fact that I am not aware of the research does not mean it is not happening or has not occurred since I am much more practice oriented than research. Dr. Steve Schwartzberg also discusses this in his book A Crisis of Meaning: How Gay Men are Making Sense of AIDS (1996).

Dr. Robert Remien has been studying the dynamics of long term survivors for many years now and has published several articles about this topic. He has a chapter entitled "Counseling Long Term Survivors of HIV/AIDS" that he co-authored with Glenn Wagner that appears in a 1995 book that Walt Odets and I co-edited entitled The Second Decade of AIDS: A Mental Health Practice Handbook.

I would refer you to these sources.

-- Michael Shernoff

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