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The Battle Ahead
Apr 20, 1999

Dear Father: I think I have been exposed to HIV in January. In February I start feeling depressedwhile experiencing sympthoms associated with ARS. Since then my life is a living hell. I pray constantly but it doesn't seem to aliviate my anxiety. I run a bunch of tests the last one three months after the exposure and came negative. For some reason I have convinced myself that I have contracted the disease and can't take it out of my mind. I allways did my best in isolating from self destructive behavior. However I failed at some point. I KNOW I am paying a price that is the consequence of sin. I AM DEVASTATED NOT AS MUCH AS HAVING CONTRACTED HIV but for my behavior. My physicians --I picked the best specialists that I could find-- and and all of them told me I don't have HIV but I KNOW I HAVE IT. They runned a bunch of tests (PCR's)the last one the ELISA at three months and so far came negative. I never felt worst in my life. Prayer doesn't relieve me, a battery of pills doesn't relieve me, a Priest I tried to contact is allways busy and never return my calls so the only way left is going through an expensive therapy that is exhausting my savings. I have to repeat these tests until the six month but since I have been in hell all this time I don't know how I will able to survive. I considered suicide since I think God does not want me to suffer more than I already did. I am not rejecting the way of the cross but since I have been carrying the cross for a while I reach the point where I am exhausted and my life is falling apart. I pray the rosary every day and carry the brown scapular with me. I don't blame anybody but myself. I KNOW LIFE IN HEAVEN IS BETTER THAN DOWN HERE. I KNOW GOD WILL NOT CONDEMN if I exercise my right to put an end to the suffering.

Response from Father DeMartini

Dear Friend, Thank you for sharing your very painful story with me. I hear a great deal of guilt and shame in your words and I have no doubt that memories and worries about your "behavior" (whatever that was) have infected your spirit much like the virus can infect the body. Since your doctor and extensive tests have confirmed that your have remained HIV-, I hope and pray that you would not do anything out of shame or guilt to alter that status. Our Church has a wonderful and powerful remedy for those afflictions which infect the spirit--confession or reconciliation. I encourage you to find a priest who can listen to your story, including the behaviors that trouble you and be able to offer God's forgiveness and healing grace. If you are not successful in finding such a priest, you can let me know more specifically the city in which you live and, hopefully, I can recommend someone to you. At the end of your message you state that God will not condemn you if you chose to put an end to your suffering--indeed, God would welcome you with open arms in the sacrament of reconciliation. Please choose that path and cherish and care for the body and spirit that God has given you. You are in my prayers, Fr. Rod



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