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.