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Getting involved with one's own treatment
Jan 5, 1998

I am HIV+ and find it very hard to "take control" of my treatment. When I read treatment materials I just get sicker. I feel like all the side effects will happen. The more I read the more frightened I become. So even though I gave some half-hearted efforts, I find that psychologically I cannot deal with the details of treatment--it's hard enough for me to deal with the fact that I have this disease and that any moment I could get an opportunistic infection. I cannot help my doctor with my treatment. I skim some materials and concentrate on breathing and eating well and keeping positive. And it's hard to explain this to others who think I should become some sort of expert on HIV. I cannot. It's my disease but I find the less I know the easier it is to get up every day. I follow my doctor's orders and find this comforting. Michael, would you say this is something you've heard before?? Sally

Response from Mr. Shernoff

Dear Sally,

While for many people living with HIV knowledge is power, for many others like you, becoming an active partner in their treatment is simply too overwhelming. It is important that you not feel badly about how you are handling your illness. If you have a physician who you trust, and it sounds like you do, then to follow what he or she suggests is fine as long as you do not feel powerless by taking this course of action. It is not uncommon for some people to feel very well taken care of by relinquishing treatment decisions to a doctor who has earned their trust. Self- empowerment means knowing what is best for you. There is no one right way that each and every person with HIV or AIDS is supposed to follow. As long as you feel that you are receiving the best standard of treatment for you, then continue having the kind of relationship with your doctor that results in your feeling best taken care of.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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