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I think telling my mother about my HIV status will kill her
Aug 13, 2012

Hi Nelson,

Thank you very much for your help!

As I live with my parents, I think I need to tell them, because I just found out I am HIV positive, and think few following weeks will be harsh. So they will definitely notice that something is wrong with me, because now I cry too much and don't want to do anything. But I am really scared, what my mothers reaction will be. She is very sensitive and her health is not great now, so I am really afraid it can cause come heart problems. She was always proud of me, she thought I will have great future and will take care of her when she gets older. But now I can't give her this, I can only dissapoint her. That makes my pain even worth. I don't know what to do, I can't manage it on my own. I am from another country, where we don't have so good support system. I feel so sad and guilty, that I ruined my life.

Response from Mr. Vergel

I am going to make several assumptions since you did not give me much information: you are young and you live in the United States.

I know how you feel. It took me 6 years to tell my mother that I was HIV+. But it was easier for me since I was thousands of miles away in another country and we had no treatments for HIV, so I figured why alarm her?. The last thing I wanted was for her to be on the next plane to the United States to take care of her "dying son." I was also afraid that her opinion of me would change when she found out. But as my then partner was dying of wasting syndrome (which is very difficult to hide to everyone), she started wondering. I had to tell her when my partner was drying in the hospital since by that time I was too messed up in the head to worry about anyone else's feelings. I wanted to also let her know that I was still OK and that I had already started treatment (I was actually in an AZT study taking placebo without knowing it).

When my mom found out she cried a lot. But then she stopped worrying when I promised her that I would hide any more health facts and that she would be the first one to know if I needed her help. She actually relaxed and was calm after that, which completely surprised me. I do not know what I would have done if my mom would have had health problems due to worrying about me, however.

Many parents of gay kids worry that their kids may eventually get HIV. Most do not talk about it. And when they see us crying and horribly upset, some fear that their concern has turned into reality.

Things have changed. We have effective treatments but stigma is still here to stay. Some people chose to tell their loved ones after they start treatment and their health is stable to avoid scaring them. Everyone's case is so different!

I doubt that you will be able to keep your status a secret to your mom, specially while living under the same roof. It will not be easy, but sometimes people's reactions surprise us. Some parents may kick their poz kid out of the house and some may get closer to their kid in need. Without knowing your situation, it is hard to speculate.

You are griving your own health right now and you may need support. Do you have any support from people outside your family?

I suggest that you reach out to a local non profit that can give you some support and counseling so that when the time comes to tell your mom, you do so in the most calm and effective way. You can find one here:

United States HIV/AIDS Organizations

Please know that you are not alone. We are here to help you along the way. Stay strong and seek help and treatment. Send me an email soon to let me know how you are, OK?

Nelson



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