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I have remained in good health, my friends have not!
May 8, 1996

"I am very angry - as well as perplexed because although I am HIV positive I have remained in good health and my friends have not!"

Response from Dr. Cohen

It's hard to watch your friends get sick while you stay well. Some people even feel guilty in that situation. There are a number of things you should keep in mind. First, very few people really know when they became infected with HIV. Even if you and your friends all got tested on the same day, there may still be years of difference in how long you've each been infected. Second, there are very few diseases that behave the same way in everyone. In the case of AIDS, as with many other infections, a small number of people progress extremely rapidly, another small group hardly seems to progress at all, and most people are somewhere in the middle, near the "average." We still don't understand the reason for these differences very well--it may have to do with the strain of the virus, how much virus was present at the time of infection, genetic differences between individuals, the presence of other infections, or a combination of all those factors. And of course, it's becoming very clear that the kind of medical treatment you get makes a big difference, too. You may still be angry and sad when you see your friends get sick, but it's nothing to be surprised about. And remember, there's nothing wrong with trying to stay healthy yourself, and it's OK to feel good about it.



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