Dear Abby: Today, Dec. 1, is World AIDS Day. With effective treatment, people with HIV can live as long as those without HIV. Fear, shame and ignorance remain barriers to testing and treatment, which can be more deadly than HIV itself.
People with HIV who are in treatment need never develop advanced HIV (formerly full-blown AIDS). Please encourage your readers, regardless of age, gender or sexual orientation, to get tested, and if positive, to get treatment. HIV can affect anyone.
– Mary in Frederick, Md.
Dear Mary: I’m glad you wrote. Knowing one’s HIV status is extremely important because, unlike in years past, the disease can be controlled. But in order to do that and not spread it to others, it is essential that sexually active individuals get tested.
Readers, you can be a healthy HIV-positive person and control it IF you know you have it AND get treatment. Ask your doctor about being tested. If you don’t have a doctor, contact your county health department about how to find testing and treatment in your community, or visit freehivtest.net for information about free tests in many areas across the nation and abroad.
Putting end to gift exchange
Dear Abby: I am retired, divorced and never had children. My two sisters have four adult children between them. Their kids are all married and have children themselves.
Every Christmas there is a gift exchange, which I don’t attend because I stay in Florida during the winter. At this stage in my life, I dread the holiday because it is expected that I spend a minimum of $50 per person for two dozen people.
I own some properties I am desperately trying to prepare for the market. At my age, I no longer need or want anything. It has reached a point where the “preferred” gift is money, which isn’t the idea behind the Christmas holiday. How can I politely stop this habit?
– Mrs. Ebenezer Scrooge in New Hampshire
Dear Mrs. Scrooge: You politely stop the habit by telling your sisters in advance that you are trying to prepare your properties for sale and money is limited. Therefore, you will be buying Christmas gifts only for your younger grandnieces and -nephews from now on (if you choose). Be sure to send the adults lovely holiday cards, however, so they know they are remembered.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 60069.