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Help For An HIV-Positive Son

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Help For An HIV-Positive Son
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Q: Mona,
I have a twenty year old son who is gay. My son has very handsome mixed features. He is tall, slender and with a milk chocolate complexion. However, he is obsessed with his appearance, and skin tone. I worry about him, as he seems to have no interests in life other than 'looking good' and seems to define happiness and success by the above mentioned attributes!

When he was seventeen and just out of the closet, he began seeing a man who was ten years older. He feels he was passionately in love with this man. I am not sure. A few months after his eighteenth birthday, he was diagnosed as HIV positive.

We all wept and felt so bad, you cannot imagine the pain. What I am leading up to here is the resultant bitterness and ill feelings my son has harbored towards this man. The relationship went on for a couple of years and evidently the man was not completely honest and was sort of non-commital, possibly fearing what my son might do should he choose to break up with him. Eventually my son sought help from this man's mother, being that he felt so unsatisfied in the relationship and was so angry about having contracted HIV. This made the man just furious and at present he does not speak to my son and has basically completely severed him from any communications at all.

My son is so bitter and obsessed with revenge. He wants to process on a daily basis and continually seeks out other gay men who might have news on this man's recent activities or any other pertinent gossip! I try to help my son and sometimes we talk for literally hours, until I am just worn out. Sometimes he seems to be getting better and at other times I wonder what his future holds. Last nigh at the end of our talk he said "All I know is that bitch better sleep with one eye open." Oh, this hurts to hear him say, and I just don't know what to do at this point. I can't believe I'm telling you all this, but I am one desperate woman (and Mother) Can you help in any way? -MA

A: Dear MA,
Sounds like your son is used to focusing his energies only on what's in front of him. Unfortunately now, instead of seeing a pretty face, betrayal is what he sees in the mirror.

I can only imagine how frustrated, angry, and afraid your son must be. This man betrayed him, past on an incurable illness, and then went silent without remorse for or ownership of what he's done. And your son's mission is to make him pay.

Unfortunately, because of the cloud of your son's quest, he can't see that no real satisfaction comes with revenge. You've been a fantastically open ear, but it's time to get your son outside help before he sinks his ship.

His feelings are common for men who've recently contracted HIV, but there are ways to use lessons from the past to push pent energy toward living a healthy and productive life.

There are HIV support groups for young adults. Send him. He needs to hear the stories of other HIV-positive young men and women. Book an appointment with a gay-affirmative therapist.

How do you know a therapist is gay-affirmative?
Did you know most LGBT community centers have HIV/AIDS support groups?

The goal is to help him reshape his self-image. At one point he thought he was the most beautiful person in the world. And then some stranger came and took it all away. What he needs to see is, poz aside, that he's still the beautiful young man he once saw in the mirror.
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