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Long term infected, personality repercussions?
Sep 9, 2000

(foreign -- sorry spelling mistakes)

I was diagnosed hiv in 1985. Up till I was twenty I had drug problem which stopped in 1985 too. Since then I have lived with this problem and I have seen, in the early stages, people die including my own sister. I was married to a negative for 8 years and during that time problem did not affect me so much. Since broke up I have gone through all experiences; fear of people knowing, anxiety establishing relationships, coping with rejection and fear of me etc. As time goes by and this problem is more socially accepted I have opened up and made my friends aware etc. Now what I see is the side effects problem which unable people that maybe will not get sick integrating as very few people want to get a relationship together or employ or .... with someone physically affected. I have yet not experienced that either, still is like if I had experienced everything, and I feel I am certainly "touched" by all this at this stage and there is no way back. I also think I have developed a certain degree of paranoia along the years; analyze too much and too intensely everyday situations, people and feelings. Do you think that is normal?

Response from Mr. Shernoff

I am sorry but it is not clear what you are asking. Yes, it is normal to focus a lot of energy on living with a chronic illness. Yet there needs to be a time when things become normalized and the illness just becomes one part of your life, not it's whole focus. If there is a skilled mental health professional near where you live, you may want to think about consulting with him or her to get professional help in sorting out these important feelings and issues.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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