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need to make a decision Please help
Jan 15, 2002

I have been HIV+ since 1994. I have been classed as a "long term" non progressor if there is a such thing. I am asymptomatic and currently on no meds. I was on meds at one point couple years ago and they had a reverse effect somehow. (IE made my counts go the wrong way) so the dr took me off because he didnt want me to develop a resistance. MY question is What are the qualifications for disability? My dr took me out of work on my last job because of stress,HIV and depression. This was fine with my private disability insurance, so i was out of work but after 12 months I had to apply for SS. They said to make a long story short i was not sick enough and declined me. Therefore Since i was declined by SS my Human resource manager said That it would be best for me to quit work, because rumors have already went around that i had HIV/AIDS and it would be hard for me to return to work. SO i did. This was 3 years ago. I lost just about everything No money NO job and that really set depression in. WELL now i have a new job I have good insurance and good salary. The problem is that the stress is getting to me again. I do not want the same thing to happen to me. I have never told any one at work about my status (once burned you learn). But afraid to even persue the leave. I work an avarage of 60 hours a week. I am on salary, i have disability insurance. But jsut afraid. I still suffer from depression but not being treated for it. I dont have time to go to the therapist. I go get labs done only on my off days. I have not missed a day at work since working for this company. If my dr does decide the stress is too much, I dont want to go out unless SS will approve it. I cant go on a reduced schedule because if i take a reduced schedule i will have to step down to HOURLY, and i can afford that. I am stuck. I just dont wanna start over again. I dont think i would be able to. My company also wants me to take a new store (a bigger more difficult store) i have turned it down (because i know i can not deal with the stress) and now my boss is upset with me for not taking it. Thanks for your time. There is no ASO in this area to help me.

Response from Ms. Breuer

Since you're a long term non-progressor, am I right in thinking that your T-cell count and viral load results are reasonably healthy? If so--and correct me if I'm wrong--this is only marginally an HIV-related question. You seem to be struggling mostly with depression and stress. Those can be disabling conditions, but that can happen even apart from HIV infection.

Your question is confusing to me in several ways. You struggle with depression and stress but don't have time for the very activity (therapy, with the option to medicate the depression)that could alleviate both? YOu have once lost everything, but are reluctant to step back to an hourly income because you can't afford it? Yet with the depression and possibility of a disabling stress reaction, you're not getting treatment?

I'm not trying to torture you. I'm trying to persuade you that you have diagnosed your situation really well and only need to follow through. Depression can be managed through a wide range of medications. Stress management can be learned. You have a great job, good income, and the confidence of your employer (asking you to take on the more difficult store), but perhaps your depression and stress are making it hard for you to see what a good situation you actually have. You get to live as if you didn't have HIV!

Please make the therapy appointment now. Make it with a psychiatrist so you can get a prescription for that depression. Remember, the meds for depression take a while to take effect, so there's no time to lose. You have a lot going for you, and you have great good fortune in being a non-progressor. Please take steps to keep the good stuff going.

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