I'm Latina and I have AIDS. I recently had to move back home with my parents because I can no longer support myself. Although, I've educated my family about the disease, and they have had years to adapt, they still behave really ignorantly. My mother practically follows me around with disinfectant and my father does not allow talk of the disease in the house. It's really painful to me. Even my so-called educated siblings freak out if I play with my nieces and nephew. How do I get them to treat me like a normal person?
It sounds like your family is really scared! Is there one person in your family who is more understanding than the rest? If so, approach him/her and share your feelings in a non-blaming way. Tell your confidant how "you feel" not what "they are doing to you." It's hard for the other person to be defensive if you are just expressing your feelings. Tell that person, that you want to approach the family, and that you need their support. When you do approach the family, whether it is as a group or individually, keep that non-blaming way of communicating, starting with how hurt and alone you feel. Then remind them that all of you hugged, touched, played, and had physical contact for a long time while you were already infected but before you were diagnosed. Remind them, as a result of all the "normal" contact, that you didn't transmit the virus to them then, and that you can't transmit it now that they know you have it. Again, you may get some family who respond better than others. Some may get it right away, some may need more time. But if you get one, others may follow.
"Shrink Rap" is a regular column in the Women Alive newsletter. Please send your questions about how to cope with HIV/AIDS to: "Shrink Rap", Women Alive, 1566 S. Burnside Ave. Mid-City Los Angeles Ca. 90019.
This article was provided by Women Alive. It is a part of the publication Women Alive Newsletter.