How to Care

Published 21, Aug, 2012

Listen up, neggies! The ever helpful MT O’Shaughnessy with tips on how to care for your newly acquired HIV friend!

As is the wont of my life I was talking to some friends the other day over a few beverages of an alcoholic nature.  It dawned on me what I could write about next.  It was my birthday, thank you very much, and we were discussing aging among many other things.  

And it hit me, along with a thrown ice cube, that there is a whole range of books to be written.  Not just small articles.  But this . . . 

How To Care For Your New HIV Friend. 

Of course after chapters of identifying which generation and type of HIV poz person you’ve just acquired, there would have to be a series of books for each kind.  For myself I think the older, longer term survivor is the best chance to really educate people.  And make fun of myself. 

There could be chapters about things like basic biology.  While the newer models of HIV poz people might have these kinds of issues, they are not generally expressed the same.  More of the older poz people will appreciate the understanding you can afford them by following several simple rules. 

For example.  When a poz person of a certain age and experience says they need to go, it is not the time to ask whether or not they meant the movies, across the street, to Folsom or some such.  In fact staying perfectly still and making sure not to get in their way is often the best one can do.  If possible point, silently, to the nearest washroom if you should know where one is.  

You will find, along these lines, that many of your older poz friends will be able to quietly and unconsciously navigate their home city via the sewer system’s public outlets.  It is was necessary part of existence as often there is no warning when such things would manifest in a public place.  And really the only option is to run, sweating profusely, toward the nearest restroom.  Even if those reactions no longer necessarily apply, the reflexes persist. 

A chapter on pills could be written.  Explaining that, among many other things, their rhetorical explanation that they would prefer a new regimen because their present group of pills don’t colour coordinate, well one should solemnly nod along and not point out how ridiculous it is.  For some the unending number of pills gulped down over the years can lead to a strange desire to at the very least have them in pleasing colours if one is going to be tied to them forever.  It has even been suggested that efforts be made to create alcohol flavoured ones.  A Bailey’s Atripla, for instance, might just make the morning move along more smoothly for your new HIV poz friend.  

Also, here, one could discuss how to feed or at least be sympathetic to their newly acquired HIV poz friend.  The planning of which pills to eat with food or not to eat with can produce something that appears to be five dimensional origami from an outsider’s view.  Tolerances and side effects might have changed, but fussy eating habits tend to stick with the HIV poz friend. 

A whole range of books would have to touch on humour.  For each kind of HIV poz individual there is a different kind of way to approach what makes them laugh. 

For a specific kind of HIV poz individual you will find sometimes a darker tone to their humour.  Do not be offended, for instance, by comments such as “always the pallbearer, never the corpse”.  

For others this kind of thing would be highly offensive.  It’s probably best to provide an open and free space for your new HIV poz friend to express their own humour.  Much like approaching a wild animal it is often best to be patient and quiet as they acclimatize to you. 

Or, of course, you could just buy them a beer and ask about their day. 

Miss Manners makes sense if you’re unsure but the general rule of thumb should come down to this : we’re just like everyone else.   Sort of.