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yourself but a time to look after yourself. Many people find that being diagnosed can be an opportunity to re-tune their exercise routines and their diets. Maybe you need to have some time out for yourself and address your life-work balance.


HIV: THE FACTS PAGE 62


Help me Out! Soren Stauffer-Kruse offers words of advice and guidance…


DIAGNOSIS DILEMMA


BODY TALK PAGE 66


Dear Out, I have recently been diagnosed HIV positive. I am not handling the news very well. I know how I got it, and I feel so angry with myself for screwing up and letting my guard down with someone. Until recently, I have always been very careful about safer sex, but I’ve been in a pretty volatile, on-off relationship with someone, and he kept pushing for us to have unsafe sex. Now, we’ve both tested positive – and I’m very sure I got it from him. I don’t blame him, as he didn’t know himself, but I blame myself for not being more careful. Anyway, I found out a month ago and I’ve just been so depressed since fi nding out. I don’t really feel like telling any of my friends, and my family would be devastated. And I just feel that most guys won’t want to have sex or date me now. Please tell me that I won’t always feel this way. Name withheld


You will not always feel this way. It is perfectly normal to feel depressed when you have just emerged from a difficult relationship with an HIV diagnosis. You will get through this crisis and emerge a stronger person if you follow some simple steps: It is normal to struggle with a new diagnosis. Even if you know how you got HIV, it is a shock to find out. You may find it helpful to talk about it to a health adviser or a counsellor, or look at internet forums such as My HIV (www.myhiv.org.uk). Talking to others really helps. I understand that telling friends and family may seem like a scary prospect, so maybe it’s a good idea to talk to a professional first about the pros and cons of disclosure. Your HIV clinic should also be able to guide you in the right direction. Many people also find it useful to attend a group for newly diagnosed gay men where you can learn practical things about living with HIV as well as having the opportunity to talk to others. This is not the time to be angry with


You are being really hard on yourself when you say that you blame yourself. It sounds like that relationship had a difficult dynamic. Your partner had a part to play as well. I tend to think that there are always two ways of looking at a situation like this: you either beat yourself up for what you feel was a mistake, or you recognise that you would like something else in your life and use this situation to learn how to achieve that. If the two of you are still together, maybe this is an opportunity for you to tell him what you need from the relationship. It doesn’t sound as though you are happy with it being as volatile as it has been.


There is someone out there for you who will love you just the way you are. When it comes to having sex and dating other men you need to think about the right time to tell them about HIV. There is a healthy middle ground between ‘let me tell him right away because he will reject me anyway’ and ‘I am scared to tell him about it and then we have sex and fall in love and I still haven’t told him and now I am so afraid that he will find out’ on the other. I understand that this is a tough time in your life. I hope that the advice is useful but wanted to tell you that reading your letter, I also felt that maybe what you need most right now is a good hug. Do seek out other people who are going through – or have been through – the same thing that you are currently trying to deal with on your own.


GET IN TOUCH Soren Stauffer-Kruse is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist and an expert in gay relationship and sexual issues. If you have a problem and are seeking advice, email editorial@outmag.co.uk We regret that Soren cannot enter into personal correspondence.


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