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priest with HIV
Jun 29, 1998

I was just diagnosed with HIV and am a Catholic priest. I have told my bishop who is very compassionate and understanding. My problem is how do I deal with my family and parishioners. I don't have any visibile signs of the disease but am constantly thinking about it. Any insight would be appreciated.

Response from Father DeMartini

Dear brother priest,

First of all I want to extend by support and promise of prayers for you as you face the reality of living with HIV. I am glad that you have already taken the step of speaking with your bishop and I hope that you have access to other people who can help you look at the new questions which have entered your life. I would suggest that you talk with your bishop regarding your anxiety around divulging your HIV stsuats to family and friends. Everyone I have ever journeyed with around this disease faces this issue--who can I trust to continue to treat me with love and support and not heap on judgement and shame? You know your family better than I and would be better able to know their willingness to face this news with you. Parishioners are a more diverse group and there is a risk of judgment or negativity from some--but again, you know your people better than I. An important criteria in sharing the news of your HIV status is--can this person provide positive energy, support and understanding----if that is doubtful, why put yourself at risk for more hurt! Please keep in contact--the National Catholic AIDS Network has information about retreats, support for HIV+ priests--you can call me at 707-874-3031 or contact me at ncan@sonic.net. Peace, Rodney



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