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HIV Life >> I Just Tested Positive

TdavisMSW
Newbie

Reged: 05/21/08
Posts: 8
Loc: Ft. Lauderdale
Re: Professional in NY feeling alone
      09/13/08 06:29 PM

Hello MoreThanPoz,

I was diagnosed in 2000. I think that I'm very lucky in that for the first 4 years of my diagnosis I worked with other mental health professionals in a large AIDS service org. The very DAY I received my positive test result I felt comfortable being open about it with all of my colleagues and received great support - although, I learned later on that not all of them were as understanding of how I could "allow" this to happen to me as I thought they were. Still, I think that I'm very lucky in that my experiences then allowed me to be open about my HIV-status in every agency/company I've been with since then (albeit, AFTER my 90 day probation period when my health insurance kicks in - grin). Much like coming out as a gay person to each new person I meet, I have to "come out" as a HIV-positive person over and over again with each situation I'm in. As I mentioned in my reply to Phoenix, this learning is not linear for me. I have to learn how best, and when, to disclose for each new situation I find myself in.

For me (and I know others won't agree, nor should they), I believe that it's very important for me to "come out" as an HIV-positive medical/mental health professional, not because I need to, but because I want to....because there are many others (like yourself) out there who are fearful of doing so. Most employers and human resources departments out there don't understand that from the very day we are diagnosed with HIV (even without symptoms), we are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (even my own doctor who's also HIV-positive didn't know this). Even though we often don't appear to have similar challenges in performing the essential functions of our jobs that a person in a wheelchair might appear to have, some of us (myself included) actually DO need reasonable accommodations to perform our job duties. HIV (the ADA disability) and/or the medications (used to treat the ADA disability) can cause extreme fatigue, central nervous system effects (i.e., depression, anxiety, confusion), diarrhea, etc., which can interfere with one's ability to do their job - unless reasonable accommodations are provided. It took me four months of meeting with my doctor, convincing him that my side-effects were not "sickness" that my employer should be able to require me to utilize sick time hours for, letters from him to my employer, and an eventual EEOC compliant and contact by them to get my employer and HR to understand where I'm coming from. Now, even employees with other medical conditions are "heard" and accommodated by our employer when they have challenges in performing the job they are qualified to perform.

This took extreme measures that I should NOT have had to take and, in spite of that, I will say that I am proud of myself for my willingness to embrace the fact that I contracted this virus out of no fault of my own (it IS a virus - people get viruses), confront my fears around disclosing my status at work (even though it's illegal to discriminate against me, employers do illegal things all the time), and bring them full-circle in understanding the needs of the employees that make the company successful. I know that, for even just this one company, they will think twice before ignoring an employees request for an accommodation just because they don't LOOK like they need one. I'm not the first HIV-positive person out there to do this, and I won't be the last - but I do believe that it is important for many more of us to go out on this limb (I do understand that not everyone can). Eventually, HIV in the workplace won't be an issue for anyone - regardless of their profession. Personally, I have never found any of my own disclosures to be detrimental in any situation (whether to employer, client, family member, friend OR stranger), but I am always very strategic in how I do it. Again, I do understand that not everyone is as lucky as I am in this regard.

Regarding your "PTSD like symptoms," I'm sure that you're aware of all the research regarding an actual diagnosis of PTSD for people diagnosed with HIV (and other serious medical conditions and/or invasive surgeries and treatments). It's no longer a diagnosis given only to Veterans, survivors of accidents or victims of violent sexual assault, but also people who've had open-heart surgery, etc., or diagnosed with cancers and other life-threatening conditions. Of course you don't need to address any of this in such a public forum, and I don't mean to presume what you do or don't know as a psychologist. I'm just hoping that you're also receiving the professional counseling we all need around these symptoms, i.e., Cog-B and EMDR (I've had EMDR therapy myself - great stuff) - both shown to be very successful in treating PTSD symptoms. I bring this up here because, not only is it "almost worse for us" as mental health professionals when we "mess up" in our own lives, but a lot of us also forget to take care of ourselves by seeking our own professional mental health support. You're so deserving of that kind of support, and I hope that you're getting it.

Be well....and thank YOU for furthering this very important topic that Phoenix initiated.

Terry.

Post Extras: Remind Me!     Notify Moderator

Entire thread
Subject Posted by Posted on
* Professional in NY feeling alone Phoenix1012 09/08/08 08:10 AM
. * Re: I'm a Professional in NY feeling alone onekingdom   12/07/08 08:21 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone wpk7275   10/19/08 09:55 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone gurlzone   09/19/08 01:14 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone Phoenix1012   09/22/08 07:54 AM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone ws2toronto   09/19/08 06:00 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone ws2toronto   09/17/08 11:36 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone Phoenix1012   09/22/08 07:58 AM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone ws2toronto   09/24/08 07:09 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone Phoenix1012   09/24/08 09:55 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone taurusthecat   09/22/08 10:14 AM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone Richard3910   09/15/08 09:23 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone ANewMe27   09/14/08 08:30 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone livinghope   09/14/08 05:44 AM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone Phoenix1012   09/13/08 09:46 AM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone TdavisMSW   09/13/08 07:20 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone morethanpoz   09/12/08 10:34 AM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone sbev1981   03/20/09 07:00 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone Seekyah   09/17/08 02:03 AM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone Seekyah   09/17/08 02:00 AM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone TdavisMSW   09/13/08 06:29 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone Ophites   09/11/08 10:50 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone jnm83   09/11/08 06:40 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone michaelmca   09/11/08 05:56 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone charlespitre   09/11/08 09:36 AM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone maxx   09/11/08 08:14 AM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone taurusthecat   09/10/08 10:51 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone TdavisMSW   09/10/08 09:11 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone NYRN   09/10/08 09:05 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone toothsaver   09/10/08 08:16 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone jody417   09/10/08 08:12 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone oldwoman   09/08/08 12:00 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone Phoenix1012   09/09/08 07:40 AM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone oldwoman   09/09/08 08:19 AM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone Florida69   09/09/08 12:14 PM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone oldwoman   09/10/08 08:13 AM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone Florida69   09/08/08 09:02 AM
. * Re: Professional in NY feeling alone RevAnn   09/08/08 08:44 AM

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