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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Several weeks ago I began dating a man I care for very much. We discussed a future together and things seemed to fall into place. We thought it was wise to have HIV testing before we got too intimate -- which means we were very cautious -- but we did become intimate.

His test came back positive. He wasn't too shocked, nor was I. I care deeply for this man. He's 38 and I'm 31. We both have been married several times, and now I feel like I should never be with anyone else. I know the risk involved with staying with him. However, I can't imagine not being there when he needs me.

His lifestyle has changed in the last few months, and if he continues living a healthy lifestyle, he could live a fairly normal life, which I'd very much like to be part of.

I don't worry about his giving me AIDS, but I do worry about how I will take care of him if and when he gets sick. I have two wonderful kids ages 9 and 5. I want to see them grow up and have families of their own.

I've believed in God all my life, and never thought he would put me in a situation like this. I can't seem to understand what God wants from me, although I pray a lot lately. I'm afraid to consult our pastor with this private problem.

Can you help me sort this out? -- FAITHFUL MISSOURI READER

DEAR FAITHFUL READER: The recent breakthroughs in AIDS therapy have given new hope to many people. With luck, your boyfriend will be one of them.

According to Mervyn Silverman, M.D., past president of the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR), with proper protection, you can significantly reduce your risk and maintain your negative HIV status. Obviously this means NEVER letting your guard down, and always using protection with penetrative sex. For information on the best preventive methods, contact your local or state AIDS office.

Your boyfriend seems to be doing well, and with the new drug therapies, he could continue to do well for many years. However, should his condition worsen, there are home-care agencies to help you with his care. And in many communities there are support groups for caregivers of people with HIV. You should both look for the resources available to you. A call to the Centers for Disease Control AIDS hotline (1-800-342-2437) can help you in your search.

I wish you both the very best of luck.

DEAR ABBY: Our dad, age 60, divorced our mom five years ago, after 26 years of marriage. There are six children. Dad is soon to be married to a divorced woman with three grown children and grandchildren.

Shortly after our parents' divorce, Dad inherited a substantial amount of money because of the death of his mother and his aunt. Both his mother (our grandmother) and his aunt had intended that the six of us would be remembered through our father.

Would it be appropriate for us to ask Dad to make a prenuptial agreement to ensure our grandmother's and aunt's wishes are honored? -- THE WONDERING SIX

DEAR WONDERING SIX: I have said many times that a prenuptial agreement is a good idea for couples with property and children from previous marriages. However, the person to discuss that subject with your father should be his attorney, because although it shouldn't be, the issue is often emotionally charged.

Call your dad's attorney and suggest he (or she) talk to your father about prenuptial agreements.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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