For many living life with AIDS is emotionally and physically difficult. Despite having AIDS someone can live life and a happy one if they have the desire to do so. To help understand the impact AIDS has on a person and how a person can live life with AIDS, I have interviewed therapist Gloria Saltzman, LMFT.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a licensed Marriage and Family therapist and have worked in a private practice since 1987. During my career I have supervised interns, and written some articles on various topics. Through the SF Aids Health project I worked as a volunteer therapist. During the beginning of the epidemic I saw many men who died from AIDS. In the past decade there are many more men who are living with AIDS. There are other life threatening and chronic illnesses that many of my clients have struggled with. Sometimes the work we do is to figure out how to live with illness, and other times the work involves preparing for the end of life.”
“In addition, I am the Clinical Director of the Golden Gate chapter of A Home Within. We are a national organization that provides pro-bono therapy for foster children and adults who have been touched by the foster care system.”
What are some common thoughts and feelings that someone with AIDS may experience that can gave a negative impact on their overall life?
“There are some men who contract the disease late in their lives and they feel guilty because they think they should have known better. Often this occurs after they have experienced a traumatic event or loss. Some men contract the virus while using recreational drugs and this leads to a wide variety of emotional responses.”
How could someone with AIDS live life?
“There are many current treatments for HIV and AIDS that can prolong life for decades. Unfortunately, some of these medications have uncomfortable side effects and that takes some management. Collateral treatments to western medicine such as acupuncture and meditation can help to strengthen the immune system as well as alleviate some of the side effects.”
What type of professional help is available for someone with AIDS that can help them work through any feelings that may lead to depression?
“Especially in the Bay area there are many support groups and services for people living with AIDS. These range from individual psychotherapy to support groups to financial advisors and career counselors. Sadly, as the economy struggles, many of the services that have been offered for free or low cost are no longer available. In addition to good health care, it is necessary to find ways to manage the cost of the treatment and to alter your life style depending upon how the illness has affected one’s energy level and stamina.”
What last advice would you like to leave for someone who has AIDS but wants to live a happy life?
“Living a happy life is accomplished the same way for anyone who has AIDS or not. Having a good attitude, taking care of yourself, prioritizing your activities and setting limits to insure good health and mood are essential. Also, continuing to have safe protected sex, even if you have sero-converted is essential. You don’t want to spread the virus and you also don’t want to contract other strains of it.”
Thank you Gloria for the interview on how to live life with AIDS. If you would like more information about Gloria Saltzman you can check out her website on www.GloriaSaltzman.com.
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