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Psychosocial issues concerning the patient, family, friends, and society
Apr 8, 1997

I was looking for information concerning the psychosocial issues of an AIDS sufferer, such as the one in the book, Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir. How do these psychosocial issues affect the victim's family, friends, and society?

Response from Rev. Pieters

The psychosocial issues described in Paul Monette's "Borrowed Time" are those of an upper middle class gay man with terminal AIDS in the mid-1980's. This is only one small slice of the pie. A great deal of progress has been made since then in our understanding and treatment of HIV/AIDS, which has changed many of the psychosocial issues. Many of the people living with HIV/AIDS today who are of the economic status of Monette and his lover are surviving long and well with combination treatments of antivirals and protease inhibitors. Even without these miracle drugs, the vast majority of persons living with HIV in the world still do not have access to, nor can they afford, the kind of care Roger received in "Borrowed Time"

One of the psychosocial issues still faced by persons living with HIV is being victimized by the disease. This happens when a person diagnosed with HIV has a passive, defeatist attitude. Many times, persons feel victimized because all those around them see them as victims. Part of the challenge of living with HIV then is to stop seeing ourselves as passive victims. This happens when a person with HIV takes charge of their lives, and does not allow society's or friends' attitudes affect them. This can happen when people living with HIV insist that they NOT be called "victims."

Ever since I was diagnosed in the early 1980's, I have rejected the label of "victim" AIDS has not victimized me yet. I will not allow myself to be a victim as long as I'm alive and fighting. Call me a "victim"of this disease after it has killed me.

For more information on psychosocial issues for persons living with HIV/AIDS, read periodicals such as "Poz," "A&U" and other resources which feature our personal stories. For more clinical reading, consult your local library or HIV/AIDS Information Line.

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