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Mom of Hiv+16 year old

Jul 11, 2005

Hi Doctor Bob, I wrote to you in June of 2003 a few hours after my then 14 year old daughter (a Romanian adoptee) was diagnosed. This mom clung to your every word...still do. At this she point she is undetectable;she is very compliant with her meds. She now visits LA Children's Hospital every 3 months. The care is great! I read your words regularly and enjoy your humor and wisdom. My nagging concern is that my daughter wants to go to med school. She is active in leadership,music,sports, is already taking some college level courses. I wonder if she can handle the stress of the demands made on med students. I do not want to damper her dreams but I do not want her health to suffer. Also, be honest, can universities discriminate in accepting HIV+ plus students especially in medical fields.And what is the job market like for HIV+ docs??? Must she reveal this info??? How would you approach this if this were your own kid??? Nothing like putting you on the spot. Also, wish we had a parents' forum...sometimes I feel like my head is going to explode.I have to ask myself is this OABAT= On accounta Being a teenager or OABATH=On accounta of Being a Teen with Hiv? Hiv surely adds to the teen roller coster ride. Thanks for all that you do. A Mom

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hey Mom,

Welcome back to the Forum! I'm delighted your daughter is doing so well. Music, sports, college-level courses, leadership . . . . You must be very proud of her! Plus, she's "very compliant with her meds." That, in and of itself, is a remarkable accomplishment for an active teenager. It's also critically important for her continued good health.

I must say you're the first mom (or dad) I've ever heard say they have a "nagging concern that my daughter wants to go to med school!!!!" Of course, I understand what underlies your particular concerns. Should you try to "damper her dreams" in an effort to protect her health? No, in fact I would strongly encourage her to follow her dreams. Can an HIV+ kid handle the stress of medical school? Absofrickinglutely! Sure, medical school is not for everyone, and there are plenty of HIV neggies who can't handle various aspects of the medical school curriculum; however, assuming your daughter remains compliant with her meds, continues to have regular follow-up with an HIV specialist and maintains a good CD4 cell count and suppressed viral load, I see no reason why she shouldn't' pursue any career for which she shows aptitude and passion.

What about disclosing her HIV status? HIV-disclosure laws vary from state to state. Can universities discriminate based on HIV status? Technically speaking, I believe that type of discrimination is illegal. Practically speaking, it probably could happen.

The job market for HIV+ doctors? Well, luckily we do not have to hang our HIV status on a sign along with our shingle, when we open or join a medical practice. In reality, do you have any idea if your doctor or dentist is HIV positive or not? A number of years ago, "universal precautions" were standardized. These measures protect against bloodborne diseases in both directions patient to doctor and doctor to patient.

What would I do if it were my kid? I would advise her to live, love, laugh and be true to herself. Dreams should not be dampened, but rather encouraged at every opportunity.

Mom, I think you and your daughter are both doing a fine job and should be commended. By the way, if you ever figure that OABAT thing out, could you let us know ASAP?

Stay well, Mom. Hug your daughter for me. OK? I would be honored to have here as a distinguished colleague someday.

Dr. Bob

RE: Dr. Frascino urgently needed in Austria
Sane enough to know that I might be crazy

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