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How to help a friend who is positive

Dec 18, 2007

Hello, Dr. Frascino.

I just today found out that one of my best friends is HIV+ (and he just found out a few days ago). I just don't know what to do, I've always joked about him being promiscuous (which in all seriousness, he isn't). He's always been such the bubbly person whereas I am cynical, and I seem to be taking the news harder than he is. What would you recommend to a friend of someone who is positive to do? Continue the friendship as if nothing ever happened? Or tell him how I'll always be there for him? The only thing I'm really worried about is that by talking to him about it, it'll make him feel worse so I don't know if I should just avoid the topic completely...

Thank you for your time.

Response from Dr. Frascino


This question comes up frequently. Perhaps the easiest way to think rationally about this issue is to consider what you would like if the situation was reversed and you just found out you were HIV positive! Would you want your best friend to "just avoid the topic completely???" I sure wouldn't. I suggest you assure your buddy you are there for him, for whatever he needs. That may be a shoulder to cry on or someone to talk things out with and help him make sense of his new reality. I'm quite certain merely avoiding the 600-pound elephant in the room would not be the way to go. Take a read through the information in the "Just Diagnosed" chapter that can be easily accessed on The Body's homepage under Quick Links. You cannot "continue the friendship as if nothing even happened," because something did happen. This is the time best friends are needed most.

Dr. Bob

Infected with Hiv and herpes at the sametime

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