Who Can I Talk to About HIV and AIDS?
Because AIDS is a disease that affects so many people, most cities have established counseling centers that specialize in answering questions about HIV. In addition, there are many groups around the country that specialize in offering groups for people like you who want to learn more about HIV. There are also hotlines where people can talk about their problems over the phone.
Why do some people say that people with AIDS deserve the disease?
AIDS can be a very frightening disease, and many people find it hard to talk about AIDS because it nears talking about sex and drugs, things that we are usually taught to be afraid or ashamed of. People who say that anyone deserves AIDS are simply ignorant and afraid. They think that only drug addicts, people who have a lot of indiscriminate sex, and other people they consider "bad" get AIDS, and they like to think that they are better than people who participate in high-risk behavior. They also thin k that they don't know anyone affected by AIDS and that AIDS will never affect them. They are wrong. Anyone can get AIDS, and almost everyone knows of somebody that has been affected by HIV.
People with AIDS are not bad people, and They are not being "punished" for anything they did. They are people who have contracted a disease. AIDS does not pick certain people to infect because of who they are. It can infect captains of baseball teams, farmers, ministers, firefighters, models, class valedictorians, or anyone else. You don't have to be a drug addict to get AIDS; you only have to use an infected needle once. You don't have to have sex with a lot of people to get AIDS; you only have to pick the wrong person once. The only people who should be ashamed are the ones who say that anyone deserves to have AIDS.
Someone I know has AIDS, and now my friends don't want me to talk to him?
The best way to deal with people who don't understand AIDS is to give them the facts. Remember that they are afraid of AIDS because they don't understand what it's all about. Help them to learn more about HIV and AIDS. As more and more people begin t o understand AIDS, the fear around the disease will go away.
How can I tell them it's okay?
You just did. The best a friend can do when someone is in a time of crisis like that is to just be around and comfort him/her. Don't ignore them or act strange around then. Remember, people with HIV are still the same people as they used to be.
My brother is HIV-positive, and I'm afraid to tell anyone How can I deal with my feelings?
For everyone who has HIV disease, there are fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, friends, and lovers who are dealing with that person's illness. These people all need to be able to talk about what they are feeling. There are many organizations around the country that help the families and friends of HIV-positive people and people with AIDS deal with their feelings. The best way to deal with your feelings about AIDS is to talk about them with other people who have experienced the same thing. The worst thing you can do is bottle all your feelings up inside and pretend that nothing is wrong.
My six-year-old sister wants to know about AIDS. What should I tell her?
AIDS is in the news a lot these days, and children are becoming aware of it at a very early age. Many young children are frightened because they don't understand AIDS. They think they can get it like they get a cold, or that they can get it from a blood test. They need to be told that these things are not dangerous. Young children do not have to be told all the details involved with sex in order to understand AIDS. Telling them that AIDS is a disease that people get by doing certain things is usually enough. Children really want to know how they can't get AIDS. They should be reassured that they do not have to worry about blood tests, or having their teeth cleaned, or of people with AIDS sneezing near them, playing with them, or kissing them.
What should I say when someone tells me she or he is infected with HIV?
When a friend tells you that she or he has been infected with HIV, that person has chosen to trust you with very important information. Unless your friend asks you to, do not tell anyone else about his/her other condition. Because of ignorance about A IDS, discrimination still exists, and even though you have the facts, not everyone will respond as you would hope they would.
One of the biggest problems faced by people with AIDS is the psychological stress of having to tell people that they are infected with HIV and worrying about whether people will reject them. This can often be harder than dealing with the disease itself. The most important thing you can do for a friend who tells you he or she is HIV-positive is to tell your friend, "I am here for you when you need me."
You must also learn to understand your friend's disease. Find out all you can about AIDS so that you can recognize when your friend needs rest or needs help with something. This might mean staying in on a Friday night and watching television because your friend is tired, when you would rather have gone to a movie or gone dancing. It might mean attending support groups with your friend or going along on visits to the doctor.
This doesn't mean that you have to treat your friend like an invalid or a dying patient. You don't have to always ask if your friend is all right or be a nurse. The person is still the same person you loved before she or he was infected. You can s till hug and kiss your friend and share food and drinks. Your friend will still enjoy ball games and fishing trips, concerts and shopping, and will still want to do these things with you.
Last Updated: 08 April 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD