HIV AIDS

by Marizze Chan
(Philippines)

Dealing with blame and burnt out feeling in HIV affected youths imposes serious challenge to parenting.

Body HIV/AIDS Resource website notes that around the world, there are more than 42 million HIV-positive cases. And stigma is still a huge problem in the society.

Even in the US, some people are even punished by community members, leading them to delay getting tested, even if they are at risk.

It is common to encounter severe feelings of blame and burnout in HIV affected individuals. Therefore, it is essential to know how to deal with these emotions in ways that work.

Dealing with Anger

For HIV patients, anger is commonly tied to blame. Affected youths may either blame themselves, or blame the person who infected them. Teenage depression and bottled anger may even motivate these youths to seek vengeance against the offender.

Good rapport will help the patient to open up to the caring parents, friends and family. Bilateral dialect will then ease the disturbed emotional state into something more positive.

Be attentive: Besides being compassionate and empathetic, show that you’re willing to listen, and want to provide a safe place for a person to describe his or her feelings. After the anger in HIV patient is successfully dealt with, the subject of blame should be more manageable. Do reassure the patients that their problems are not unusual, and they are not alone in it.

A Cyclical Effect

The Friends of AIDS organization cautions that problems with blame are often most easily seen shortly after a person’s diagnosis. Moreover, because of stigmatization inflicted by the society along with negative responses from significant others in their environment, HIV patient will be more likely to have battered self-concept, who then engage in self-stigmatization.
Help these patients by talking to them on one-on-one basis to end the phenomenon of internal stigmatization. Also encourage them to be active self advocates.

Guide them to local support groups, and make sure they’re treating their disease properly.

Optimally managed HIV cases can function normally through their daily activities, which would also minimize the chances of their being stigmatized by the peers.

Bearing the Burden of Burnout

Both the HIV patients and their family suffer from what is called "HIV burnout". People who are caring for someone with a serious illness often experience symptoms like depression, anxiety and excessive stress.

It is normal to get exhausted while caring for a patient with any chronic illness, more so if one is emotionally involved with the patient. Rather than feeling guilty about being unable to bear the burden of a loved one’s illness independently, it is worthwhile to try and expand the network of support.

Dr. Robert Frascino, an HIV and AIDS specialist, mentions that the term, HIV Burnout, was first used to primarily describe physicians who could not offer adequate treatment to their HIV patients. Now that treatments are effective and being HIV-positive is no longer a death sentence, it should be easier for the patients and their family members to find support.

Approach the challenging subjects of blame and burnout with a sense of compassion. Be empowered by the available resources. The combination, we hope, should inspire confidence about the future.

Additional Information

Robert Neff writes for medical and social work blogs.
If you to wish to work with HIV patients, consider getting a social work degree such as those offered at Case Western University

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