QuestionMark? #79

July 22, 2016by Mark Rutherford

Dear Mark

I wanted to respond to a letter you wrote a few months ago. You said this was a manageable disease and I disagree with you. Since you work with people afflicted with HIV/AIDS, I wanted to write in to remind you that NOT everyone has this as a “manageable disease”….I for one am on a multi-drug regimen (about 30-35 pills a day as well as minimum 2 shots per/day) as I have significant “cross-resistance” to med classes or what you might call “multi-resistant” virus….sometimes when I am with a friend it is difficult for me to see these people who take 3-5 pills per day….besides my “cocktail” I have to still prophylax against opportunistic infections as well so that adds to the regimen)….one of the problems is that so many people, especially adolescents (some of the most vulberable people in our society) FEEL INVULNERABLE so they take risks….so just as an “aside” I do not myself like to paint a pic of this disease to people as being “more manageable” because that is really up to their interpretation.


To me DM (Diabetes Mellitus, another horrifying pathology) IS manageable & I think when we as healthcare professionals depict this as “manageable” many think of more manageable diseases such as DM & begin again to take risks….I am just sharing here “health-care professional to health-care professional” to offer you a different perspective you may not have thought of… “Life will go on, & that life is what YOU make of it….remember, it is NOT
what life gives to you, but it is truly how you handle it which really matters!” my personal philosophy.


With much respect & thanks (& love) for you for helping all afflicted with this horrifying antigen…. Michael


Hi Michael, You make a valuable and intelligent point. I want to thank you for taking the time to write in. I agree with you that some people do not take this disease as seriously as it should be taken. Before I began private practice I worked for many years in HIV prevention. Back then, in 1990, HIV was indeed a terminal illness. With the advent of the new generations of drugs starting with Protease Inhibitors back in 1995, the tide began to shift for HIV positive people. I remember everyone in the field having the very same concern back at that time. At first everyone was thankful to have something new to offer clients in the way of medicine. Then we began to wonder how we were going to explain this to people that these are not magic bullets and they should still practice safe sex.


As you know, many people did not get the message and, over the years, infection rates rose again. Our fears about public interpretation of this disease came true on a number of levels. HIV can be a deadly killer but it is not a “given” anymore and this is the point I was trying to make. With early detection, proper medical care, proper health care we have the power to possibly change the outcome. While it can be a drag, the virus, for the most part, is manageable. People have been living, quite healthy, for quite some time with the HIV virus in their body. Will it kill them someday? Maybe. Will it be in five or ten years? Probably not. People are living longer and the quality of their lives is getting better and better.   There are new drugs on the forefront that promise to improve upon what we already have now. With a little luck, many HIV positive people will die of old age instead of HIV. Is that a fantasy? Some people may disagree with me but I truly don’t think so. I believe this with all my heart. I hope you will continue to work at keeping yourself healthy and continue to educate others. I respect you for that. I also wish that you will take some hope for yourself. Even with all the drugs, you are living and it is a meaningful life at that. All my best.


Dear Mark,

I’ve been dealing with a lot of changes in my life staying at home while going to college… its been hard on me not to tell my parents that I’m a lesbian I’ve come out to my friends but not to them… my mom I think she suspects that I am but she really doesnt touch the subject that much… my dad in the other hand he is very negative and very close minded everything I do the way I dress everything that’s me is a problem for him and I just need to tell both of my parents that I’m gay because it really is driving me off the walls here… I just want to know when is the perfect time to tell parents that ‘Hey mom and dad… guess what I’m gay” I tried to tell them, a couple times but my dad he always saying if one of my children tells me that they are gay I will kick them of the house…

I just need some guidance through a very difficult situation…


a very faithful reader



Thank you for writing in. Let me just start by saying that so many people have been where you are before at one point in their lives. Coming out and parental difficulties seem to be a universal problem for gay people. So you are not alone. In fact, you are surrounded.


The first thing I want to know is if you are living at home at the moment. That changes things. I wish it were not the case but some gay men and women have been thrown out of their parents homes after sharing the news. If you are living at home, be sure to find a back up plan in case sharing the news with them doesn’t go the way you want it to. If you really feel being thrown out is a possibility, my suggestion would be to wait until you have more stable options. This is frustrating but very well may be the best choice for you. The first thing is always your safety. If it means waiting a while to share your heart with your parents, then so be it.


Until that time, my suggestion would be to educate yourself the best way you know how. Get to your local gay and lesbian community center. The GLCC of Fort Lauderdale has a coming out group that meets weekly where you can meet others who are at the same point in their lives. You can discuss your concerns with them and a skilled facilitator. Do not shrug this one off. There is strength in numbers. When/if you come out, you will need their support and understanding.


Also, find some books on the subject. The GLCC library should have some good options or even your local big chain book store will have a few good books. My favorites are “The Family Heart” by Robb Forman Dew about a mom coming to terms with her son’s sexuality. Also, “Straight Parents Gay Children” written from a father’s perspective about his lesbian daughter. An old favorite is “Loving Someone Gay”. But there are literally tons of books out there. Read as many as you can. Find a couple that you think may be good for your parents. Buy them and save them and give them to them when the time is right.


Another valuable resource is PFLAGG (Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians). It’s a support group for parents with gay children. Find out when and where they meet and give this to your parents as an option. They may resist at first but may go when they are ready. Through all of this, remember to give them time. It took you a long time to come to terms with yourself. Give them the same courtesy. Handle their fear and lack of understanding with kid gloves. Show them that you are the same person on the inside and they will come around, on some level, sooner or later. Another great resource is Pridelines Youth Services.  They have a support group every Monday at their Safe Space near Downtown Miami at 180 NE 19th Street from 6:30PM to 8:30PM.  Also, they have a women’s night on Tuesday (same time, same place).  If you would like more information, please feel free to e-mail Pridelines directly at or by calling 305-571-9601. Keep in touch and let me know how it goes or if you have any questions.


All the Best, Mark Rutherford LCSW