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Spotlight Series: HIV Stigma and Discrimination
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Spring 1998

I am a 46 year old woman who has had AIDS for 13 years.

I got AIDS from IV drug use in 1984. However, since 1994 I admit that, at times, I still abuse some of the medications I need to take.

Using or Not

I have a very high tolerance to narcotics -- as do most addicts, still using or not.

When I get sick, in or out of the hospital, doctors want to give me Vicodan or something similar. To me, it is like taking an aspirin. Also, when I am in the hospital they want to give me 100mg of Demerol: this takes the edge off, but that's it.

Where I lived before, my doctor understood my situation and would give me enough [pain medication] to make me comfortable (under supervision). Then he would wean me off slowly so I wouldn't have to go through withdrawals.


Now, to me, that is a doctor who shows compassion and understands what addicts who have AIDS go through.

I don't know much medically about how endorphins work in the body, but I wonder if drugs that we take over the years make us lose these natural endorphins produced by our bodies?

I do know that every one's body is different, so when we have to take drugs they react differently in each one of us. Doctors need to take this on a case-by-case basis.

How Would He Know?

To me, it is like a male gynecologist telling us how we should feel when we have an ovarian cyst or when we have a cyst removed. How would he know how much pain we are really in if he hasn't been through the same experience?

I could go on and on, so if there is anyone out there who has a similar situation or an answer, please send it in to Women Alive.

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This article was provided by Women Alive. It is a part of the publication Women Alive Newsletter.