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Work, Travel and HIV
Jun 23, 1998

Dear Lynn, Nancy and David,

First of all thnx for your wonderful support and help for all of us over here! It is great to have people like you working on our side (if there is such thing as "sides").

My question is this: I live outside US, in South America, but work for an American Company. I do travel a lot for biz purposes to South America, Caribbean and US. Regulations and Laws over here do protect us as well as in the US (some people even wonder why cancer patients or other diseases are not covered as well as HIV).

I am HIV+ since a month ago, and started my medication (HAART). Due to its schedule and lunch times it is kinda difficult for biz lunchs/dinners/meetings, etc., but I am handling it very well...

Since we are a very small group of people in our office, sometimes when we travel we usually share rooms and we know each other very well, we are also good friends.

But then, I am planning a trip and I will have to assist to dinners, lunchs and share my room...

My question is: What is the most suggested answer I should give when asked why I do not eat at certain times, have morning nausea and/or take a lot of pills? Because they will surely note this three things!

I would be very grateful if you can help me with this, since I like my job, want to keep it, and want to keep normal people around me, not just frantic and concerned people!! I want to be the same old workaholic I used to be and do not want this to interfere with my work life!! I would love to keep travelling and seeing the world and meeting people!

I look fwd to your response.

Thank you very much in advance for your kind assistance.

Best regards,

C.

Response from Ms. Breuer

Congratulations on handling your initiation to HAART so well! And this sounds like a job you love. I hope you and it stay together for a long time.

Your co-workers may indeed notice your pills and your unusual eating schedule, but they will notice your nausea only if you tell them. It's okay to just say that you're not hungry at the moment, or that lately you don't eat much in the morning. That leaves the medication. I would suggest traveling with only the medication you need, and taking it in the bathroom, alone. When you're not removing pills from containers, keep the medication in your shaving/cosmetic kit. If someone does see the pills and ask, you have several choices. You can use humor and explain that as you get older, more parts seem to need higher maintenance. (Trust me, this is true.) You could tell the person that you're trying to get rid of an infection. (Which is true.) Or you could disclose.

This is still pretty new to you, so you haven't had time to think through the possible outcomes of disclosing your HIV status to them. You're not required to, of course, and I urge you to think about it three times through before you do it. You might even want to talk it over with an HIV-savvy attorney and an HIV-savvy counselor first. You do not need to have this interfere with your work life. Keep seeing the world and meeting people--and keep taking the medications as prescribed. There's time to think about this disclosure thing. Since the group is close, telling one would probably mean telling all of them. They may indeed be frantic and concerned at first, but you have a lot of power over how they handle it. If you're cool with it, experience shows, they'll soon be cool with it, too.

Write again if you want to talk more about this, and if the issues come into sharper focus. Strength to you, and may your life continue to be so rich and full.

Nancy Breuer



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