Resources and advice to give a friend who just found out he's positive

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 29, 2008 10:46 PM GMT
    A casual friend just found out he's positive. He's young (33), not out and has no real gay support network (which is why he called me and my partner). He's totally freaked out - and we want to help him. Any advice - both for him and for us to help him deal with this?

    Thanks,
    Keith
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    Nov 30, 2008 2:01 AM GMT
    Thanks for supporting this guy. It's a little difficult to give advice not knowing the context but I'd say the most important thing is to just be there for him, hear his anxieties, and not try to solve everything. If he's in a state of shock that will be the most useful thing - he won't be able to retain any advice you give him.

    I don't know where you live but there is probably a gay-friendly telephone line or crisis line, if not an actual organization. A few googles or a chat with your other friends may get you this information. For actual information on HIV/AIDS the site I use and refer people to in Canada is www.catie.ca.

    You will all get through this.
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    Nov 30, 2008 2:03 AM GMT
    Is he in NY also? I don't know New York myself, but I know GMHC has been around since the beginning and is probably the best resource possible for him.
    http://gmhc.org/
  • cowboyathlete

    Posts: 1346

    Nov 30, 2008 2:18 AM GMT
    Hands down as far as web based resources I would recommend http://www.thebody.com/. Another option is http://personals.poz.com/
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    Dec 01, 2008 2:06 AM GMT
    Great resources, guys. Here's a cut and paste:

    'First, go to your doctor, or go to an AIDS organization and find someone to talk with about your condition. We talk with clients about this all the time -- so many of them aren't diagnosed until they're in the hospital and sick, and by that time their options are much more limited. If you're not in a dire medical situation, go to your doctor and get your labs done and talk with him or her about your options. It gives you peace of mind.

    Second, talk with someone who's HIV positive and has done all this before. They'll help you re-evaluate and make changes in your life. I'm a big fan of sobriety; I think people need to get support during that crucial early time so they don't just start drowning their sorrows'.

    There are also a lot of online peer support groups you and your friend can join.
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    Dec 01, 2008 9:28 PM GMT
    The two websites that were given above are great. "TheBody" is an amazing website in which just about every possible question ever asked about HIV and its' treatment has been answered by professionals.

    I recently had a long time friend get diagnosed with HIV. One of the first people he came out to (and yes it is very similar to that process) was me because I had already gone through the trauma of testing positive. I gave him one piece of advice right away. Find a good doctor, preferably one that is an expert in the treatment of HIV.

    Secondly I recommended he confide his health issues with family and close friends if possible. In the situation you describe the guy is closeted which makes things more difficult, but I would strongly recommend that at least close friends are informed. He is going to have a rough go of it for awhile. No matter how much you might think you are ready for the news, you are not. Depression, guilt, anxiety and denial are all in play. I personally think I coped with the news as well as can be expected (considering I had never engaged in high risk activity) but I still to this day think about my HIV status almost every day.

    Fortunately the treatment for HIV is much improved since 1995 when I first started taking drugs. My friend who just got diagnosed takes 1 pill a day. When I started I was on 3 drugs including one which you had to take on an empty stomach. It was a pain to manage and the side effects were very irritating.

    Best of luck to your friend, HIV does change your life, but with an optimistic attitude, good medical care and a support network, your life can be just about as fulfilling as that experienced by HIV- people.
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    Dec 01, 2008 9:52 PM GMT
    kmusselman saidA casual friend just found out he's positive. He's young (33), not out and has no real gay support network (which is why he called me and my partner). He's totally freaked out - and we want to help him. Any advice - both for him and for us to help him deal with this?

    Thanks,
    Keith


    Stress to him that it's no longer an immediate death sentence, but a chronic disease. It's still serious, and needs constant attention, but I personally know men who are approaching 20 years with HIV.

    Since he's the HIV "class of 2008" the odds are much improved that a cure will be found for him. The latest medical data is now saying early and aggressive treatment is best. Previous wisdom said do nothing, until viral load and T-cell counts went bad. He needs to find an experienced HIV/infectious disease specialist, not a GP, to manage his care.

    Having lost a partner to AIDS when things weren't so optimistic, my thoughts and prayers are with him. Help him to realize he's got a good chance at a good life ahead of him today, that improves all the time.
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    Dec 02, 2008 12:23 AM GMT
    Thanks guys - all very helpful. Saw him last night and he is taking many of the steps you all suggested. Thanks again.

    Keith