A Therapist's Guide to Living and Laughing With HIV/AIDS
By Elizabeth Lombino
May 9, 2011
Welcome to my new blog! I'm excited to have the opportunity to share some humor and hope with you! Hopefully you will learn something new about yourself and improve your quality of life.
Before we get into all of that, this post will give you the opportunity to learn more about me. I am a Licensed Social Worker with over 10 years experience working in the field of HIV/AIDS. Prior to my professional work, I have several more years experience and education in all things HIV/AIDS.
I came of age in the 1990s. HIV/AIDS was finally being taken seriously during this decade. There was a drastic shift from the ignorance, denial and danger of the 1980s. After a decade of turmoil, HIV/AIDS was given the vast attention it needed and our culture was finally taking steps to raise awareness and promote prevention. I remember watching Pedro Zamora. His story exemplified the shift in our cultural view of HIV/AIDS. Of course there was still a tremendous amount of work to be done, yet many more of us were doing our part to better understand this disease.
Growing up during this time was incredibly powerful for me. To be clear, I am not infected with HIV; I am affected by this disease. I have seen many friends and loved ones struggle and go through their own journey. Now professionally, I have gotten to know hundreds of people living with HIV/AIDS. Each person I meet touches my heart in unique ways.
I have a vivid memory of the first time I saw the AIDS Quilt in the mid-1990s. The image of the countless coffin-sized quilt pieces decorated by loved ones is forever imprinted in my brain. For all the panels dedicated by loved ones, there were even more made in honor of those who died alone. My heart broke and somehow I knew I needed to be involved in this community. To make sure those living with HIV/AIDS were not left to die alone.
Today, I feel there has been a shift again. For a variety of reasons, HIV/AIDS has seemed to go back into another form of silence. The myths and misinformation from the earlier era of the epidemic have returned, with some new ones. This is incredibly difficult for me to see as a professional, and as a person who saw so much progress in the 1990s. For a variety of reasons, those living with HIV/AIDS seem to be even more misunderstood and more stigmatized. This is another disheartening shift that needs to change.
All of this has brought me to this place. HIV/AIDS advocacy is now a big part of who I am. Perhaps I can continue to raise awareness and dispel myths. Perhaps my colleagues will realize the importance of HIV/AIDS education. Perhaps they will be more open to learning about what it means to live with HIV/AIDS. Especially since many of my colleagues are most likely working with HIV-positive adults and don't know it.
So that's a little about me. I'm very excited about this opportunity to share my thoughts with all of you. Working with people living with HIV/AIDS has taught me so much about stress reduction and improving one's quality of life. I will be sharing what I have learned and what I see has helped my clients. Providing you with guidance and assistance in navigating all the stressors and challenges you face each day. Helping you feel less stressed out and enjoy your life more.
I hope you will enjoy what I have to share with you!
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As a Social Worker, I have been providing mental health treatment to HIV-positive adults for over 10 years. I received my master's in Social Work from Columbia University. Also, I write about HIV/AIDS advocacy and present at national conferences on the issues related to HIV/AIDS to professionals and students. Through writing and presenting, I can better advocate for the issues that I see with my clients every day. Living with HIV/AIDS can be a daily struggle with many unique challenges. My goal with this blog is to provide a sort of cyber therapy space for you to learn some skills and tools to better cope with these challenges. Hopefully you will gain confidence and look at life in new ways. Through humor, hope, sarcasm, education, and other therapeutic tools, let me help you live a happier life! So sit back, relax, and let's start relieving some stress!
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