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Should I be worried?
Oct 20, 1998

Michael, I tested positive with HIV in June of 95. My reation to the news was mixed. At this point I am just numb concerning the issue of AIDS as it relates to my health. I found a doctor who I thought was commited to working with me to fight this virus. All of a sudden this doctor left the clinic, didnt notify me of his whereabouts and I was devastated. At this point I am still on meds, however I am reaching the point of just not caring what happens in the future. I have not been to the clinic in over six months and just don't have the desire or will to go in for blood work. Should I be concerned about this "I Dont Care Attitude".?

Response from Mr. Shernoff

I am very concerned about your "I don't care attitude" and if you want to live and have a good quality of life so should you. From the sounds of your letter it seems very clear that you are suffering from depression. If left untreated depression can be a fatal illness, especially for people with HIV who neglect their medical care in response to being depressed. If you want to move out of this you must call the clinic and ask for an appointment with one of their therapists and begin to work with him or her on all of the feelings that you are having about being HIV+.

The crisis of being diagnosed with a life threatening illness is devastating to all of us who have been there, and creates a very real crisis. In addition it can trigger old emotional scars.

The good news is that depression is very treatable and there are a variety of treatments that include talking therapy either with or without anti-depressant medication. I believe that the combination of talking about the problems and medication if it seems indicated, is much better than just having some anti-depressant prescribed and not having a safe and supportive environment to explore the deep and painful issues that are helping cause the depression.

Please call your clinic today and ask for an appointment with one of their counselors or therapists who can help you develop a plan for overcoming the depression and inertia that is paralyzing you. One note to help give you hope is the fact that you wrote to me and asked for help. This means that deep inside you want to get better and must feel that it is possible for you to not have to be suffering in the way that you now are. Call today for that appointment. Mihcael Shernoff, MSW



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