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Author Topic: would love some advice-my cousin is positive and I am a counselor  (Read 4224 times)

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Offline svlyas123

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  • Posts: 4

My cousin recently told the family that she tested positive for HIV.  I realized that I know very little about HIV/AIDS and that I really wanted to change that.  I am also a mental health counselor and came to realize that my clients may have HIV/AIDS and that I am unequipped to help them navigate this path because I have been bereft in acquiring knowledge.  I have sought resources in my area, but would love whatever tips, counsel, and stories anyone is able to offer.  I would really like to understand, to the best of my ability, what it is like to live with AIDS in our society today and what ways discrimination occurs on a regular basis.  I know from my cousin that she has encountered discrimination from her doctors and that one of her struggles was finding a way to tell the family and those closest to her.  She truly feared that we would all reject her and I have to say I am way impressed with her bravery at telling those in the family that did not react well.  Thanks for your time and input!   

Offline Winiroo

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  • Positive since 1991
Re: would love some advice-my cousin is positive and I am a counselor
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2009, 09:49:15 pm »
It was always important to me that people did not treat me different. Little changes in the way family members or friends interacted with me or spoke to me where very apparent and hurtful.
I know my family would never intentionally hurt me and after 16 years of being positive they now all treat me as if I am me and not a HIV positive me. If that makes any sense.
Good luck with the learning and congratulations on being a good cousin.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2009, 09:51:06 pm by Winiroo »

Offline vasky

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Re: would love some advice-my cousin is positive and I am a counselor
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2009, 05:23:58 am »
Congratulations on being a fantastic cousin, I am negative myself but my boyfriend is positive and during this time with him I have learned that for starters I need to know about HIV; as you, I knew nothing or very little about it. A good place to start are the lessons offered here on poz.
As a counselor, I would say you have to start like with any other client from the empathy and respect. My Bf doesn't expect a different treatment. From what I have learned in HIV or in any other situation, people expect to be treated like people, regardless of their condition.

Hope this is helpful,

Offline svlyas123

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Re: would love some advice-my cousin is positive and I am a counselor
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2009, 06:13:25 pm »
I have found the information on POZ to be very beneficial.  I also think that these forums are a great way to connect. 

Thank you for the advice as a counselor.  I agree that it is essential to begin every session with acceptance and empathy for whatever situation is being presented to me.  I wonder whether there are specific issues that I need to be aware of such as the pain of when, who, and how to disclose your status?  Or what it is like to be treated differently at times even when you desire to have equal and fair treatment.

How did your Bf go about telling you that he is positive?  That must be a very challenging discussion to have.

Offline svlyas123

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Re: would love some advice-my cousin is positive and I am a counselor
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2009, 06:20:48 pm »

Thank you for responding.  It really seems important from several people I have talked to that maintaining normalcy and life that is the same as before being paramount.  But, I wonder if there are not even a single unique issue to living in our society and being positive?  As I have read over the articles in POZ and other magazines it seems to me that there are several including disclosure, side effects of medications that are debilitating, depression and anxiety for many, and relating to health care professionals that can be either positive or negative.  What are your thoughts?

Offline Winiroo

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  • Positive since 1991
Re: would love some advice-my cousin is positive and I am a counselor
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2009, 08:02:07 pm »
Being HIV positive is different than other chronic and often fatal conditions in many ways. No other illness in the world comes with such a risk of prejudice as HIV. The stigma attached to being HIV positive is less now than it was years ago, unfortunately many people still remain ignorant.
The fear in disclosing even to doctors and nurses can be very intense. I have met my fair share of so called "professionals" over the last 16 years. Including persons in my extended family one of which was an EMT fearful of me being too close to their children or sharing dishes.
I once had a doctor use double layered gloves in order to check the sounds of my lungs with his stethoscope and other simple things such as feeling my lymph glands.
After the birth of my second child there was a huge warning poster on my room door announcing to anyone passing that I was HIV positive and to wear protective garments.

Fortunately for me I have a big healthy dose of I don't care. And a sunny outlook on life so the doom and gloom and whoa as me song and dance I could be doing doesn't even cross my mind.
The first couple of years of being positive is a tough transition. But with love and support I hope your cousin can get to a good happy place in their life with HIV.

I feel like I could type forever about my feelings on HIV and being positive but lengthy posts annoy me so I wont.  LOL


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