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hiv+ partner refusing medical attention
Dec 12, 2010

i wrote a couple of weeks ago. i had just found out that my partner was/is hiv+. i am waiting for the 3 month mark to take my hiv test. i am scared. but this post isn't about me. my partner tested hiv+ about a year ago and has not been to the doctor since. he is one of those i'll-drink-aloe-to-cure-malaria kind of guys. i am all about alternative medicine myself but sometimes i think you need an alternative to alternative! i mean we're not talking about poison ivy here.

i am trying to convince him to go to the doctor. to get informed. to get blood tests. to find out his levels. to start on arvs. and he is refusing. he feels healthy. and that he isn't a pill person. he is clearly uneducated and/or just in denial-- regardless of the stuff i spew at him on a nightly basis. he actually cared for his brother, who died a terrible death from aids complications a few years ago. his brother never took arvs either. why that isn't a wake up call for him, i don't know.

i am writing to ask your advice:

1. is there any literature on the body on what happens if you don't take arvs? 2. if he doesn't go to the doctor, and doesn't take arvs, what are his chances of living a long full life? 3. he is experiencing insane acid reflux that keeps he/me up at night. it seems to be getting worse. is/could that be related to the progression of the virus? 4. is there any advice you could give me to convince him how important it is that he go to the doctor? maybe you or one of your patients has dealt with such thick-headedness in the past and made an impact?

the relationship is only 7 months old. it's been hard enough to deal with the fact that he hid his status from me all these months. and i've now accepted that i could be a happy magnetic relationship with the right person. but if he doesn't take care of himself, if he doesn't seek medical attention, then i don't think he is the right person for me.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Considering your partner "actually cared for his brother who died a terrible death from AIDS complications a few years ago," chances are he is not unaware of the catastrophic consequences of the disease and of not getting treated. He may certainly be uneducated, misinformed and in denial, but chances are he's very frightened as well. I would suggest that, rather than telling him he needs antiretrovirals or any kind of treatment right away, a better approach would be to encourage him just to get some routine monitoring tests that will measure HIV activity (HIV viral load) and determine if there has been any immune damage (CD4 count) as a start. Let him know the decision to take any medication is totally up to him. No one will force him to do anything he doesn't want to do. But he needs to know where he stands and that you, as his partner, also need to know this information. He may be more amenable to at least taking the first step if he feels he won't lose control of subsequent health care decisions. With a bit of time and more information he may well become more reasonable about treatment. I certainly hope so.

Regarding your specific questions:

1. We have a decade of experience as far as what happens if you don't take ARVs. Effective ARV was not available until 1996. The first cases of AIDS were identified in 1981. Consider Netflixing (or borrowing from the library) a copy of the PBS documentary "The Age of AIDS." It chronicles the first 25 years of the epidemic. There is also much information on The Body and related links related to the natural history of HIV/AIDS (untreated). Just do a simple search.

2. Nonexistent. AIDS will snuff his life out prematurely.

3. Unfortunately I can't determine if indeed he's experiencing "acid reflex" or perhaps some other condition such as candida esophagitis, etc. Could it be related to HIV/AIDS? Yes.

4. See information above. Yes, I and most likely all HIV/AIDS physician specialists have dealt with similar cases. This is usually not thickheadedness, but rather fear that leads unfortunately to catastrophic consequences.

Only you can decide if you wish to continue this relationship. Certainly there are many very successful magnetic couples (yours truly and Dr. Steve, the expert in The Body's Tratamientos forum, for example). However, your partner purposefully put you and your health at risk for a considerable period of time. This is unconscionable and morally reprehensible to me. How could he do that to anyone let alone someone he supposedly cares for? Now with his current attitude of not dealing with his illness, I would strongly advise you consider distancing yourself from him at least until he's willing to be more reasonable. Currently he's skydiving and refusing even to carry a parachute, let alone pull the string. Personally, I see no reason you should stick around to watch him hit the ground.

Dr. Bob



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