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Depressed and incapacitated over possible HIV infection.
Sep 26, 2000

I think I might have been infected with HIV by performing oral sex on another guy about one month ago. I got sick about 3 weeks after the initial encounter, and now I live in fear that I have it. It permeates everything, I can't work, eat, sleep. I find myself lying in bed at 7 in the evening, crying and running through scenarios about what if I have it. How do I tell my parents, who don't even know that I am gay, that I am 23 and going to die? Do I commit suicide, I don't want to die the way people with AIDS die. Things like that. I have been distracted and making mistakes at work. I recently visited my parents, and they could tell that something was wrong, even a friend of the family asked me what was wrong. I find myself thinking about it more and more, and I'm still two months away from the first possible testing window. I am in therapy over being gay, but it's a masters student working on their PhD, I am afraid that they couldn't handle it or it might leak out that I think I am gay and might have HIV. I don't know what to do.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

Start by sharing all of your concerns with your therapist. There is no way that he or she can help you if you are not disclosing all of your feelings. It sounds like you are tortured about being gay and your reaction to thinking that you might be infected is a hysterical response to your not feeling good or comfortable about your homosexuality. Tell your therapist all of your fears about him or her and then see what happens. If you are not satisfied with the reaction you can always find another therapist.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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