DEAR ABBY: I am a 34-year-old woman who finally beat a 13-year battle with drugs. I now have a job, a car, a place of my own and a bank account. My problem is, while I was on drugs I prostituted myself in order to support my habit. Now I'm terrified I have AIDS, and afraid I'll be told I don't have long to live.
I'm not dating right now, but I've had a couple of boyfriends since getting sober. I'm scared for them, but so afraid of getting a death sentence that I've never mentioned my fears to anyone. I know I'm being selfish with these guys' lives, but I'm paralyzed by my fear. What am I going to do? -- TERRIFIED IN THE U.S.A.
DEAR TERRIFIED: What you are going to do is get yourself tested! Please understand that the fear you are dealing with is the same that anyone who has had multiple sex partners has had to face.
You must realize that being exposed to HIV and having AIDS are not the same. If you have been exposed to HIV -- and therefore test "positive" -- you need to know it ASAP so you can be prescribed anti-viral medications that can prevent you from getting AIDS. Getting on those meds can save your life. And you can save the lives of your former boyfriends, too, if you are HIV positive, by telling them to get tested.
DEAR ABBY: I have known my husband for eight years and have been married to him for three. He is a unique and funny man, but he does have a few annoying quirks. The biggest one, and the reason I'm writing to you, is his need to have music blaring in our car.
It's not just when we're driving, but also when we're going through drive-thru restaurants, banks and gas stations. Gas stations are the worst because he turns the volume up even louder so he can hear it outside. Not only is it painful to my ears, but it's embarrassing.
I have asked him a number of times to turn it down, but it just leads to arguments. Can you help me talk to him before I lose my hearing? -- BLEEDING EARS IN SPRING VALLEY, CALIF.
DEAR BLEEDING EARS: Could it be that your husband suffers from hearing loss (probably from listening to too-loud music), which is why he needs the volume turned up so high? Arguing with him won't help. He should be checked by an audiologist -- a hearing specialist -- so that he doesn't damage his hearing further, and yours won't be affected.
Protecting your hearing is important. That's why you should consider using ear plugs when you drive with him.
P.S. And when you get to the gas station, offer to pump the gas for him. If he refuses, then leave the car with him.
DEAR ABBY: My husband is 7 feet tall and we recently became parents of a beautiful baby girl. Everywhere we go, people make comments about my husband's height. He is used to being the target of stares and comments, having experienced it his whole life. Our daughter may grow up to be tall; how would you handle this? -- ANGELA IN BETHLEHEM, PA.
DEAR ANGELA: I would teach my daughter -- regardless of her height -- to be proud of who she is. If your daughter turns out to be tall, she'll have plenty of company, because each generation seems to be growing taller than the last one. A woman's height does not have to be a disadvantage unless she views it that way. If you stress the qualities you feel are important, chances are that's the person she'll grow up to be.
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