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Gosling, J. (2008). HIV/Aids: An Encounter With Death or a Journey Into Life?. J. Anal. Psychol., 53(2):261-269.

(2008). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 53(2):261-269

HIV/Aids: An Encounter With Death or a Journey Into Life?

John Gosling, MBBS

This is an account of a panel discussion. It focuses on an encounter with the HIV/Aids virus. Such an encounter may result in a descent into despair, hopelessness and ultimately death, or it may offer the opportunity of possible transformation of consciousness to embrace a life lived productively and meaningfully with a chronic but manageable disease.

A picture is provided of the dire situation that exists regarding the HIV/Aids pandemic in South Africa. The HI-virus is compared to a malevolent trickster type energy that uses ingenious means to gain access to the host. It is an impersonal agent seeking only its own survival but if left untreated will ultimately result in the death of the host.

Reference is made to characters in the musical, The Lion King, to illustrate that it is the willingness to suffer the painful emotions evoked following a diagnosis of being HIV-positive more consciously that allows for a transformation from despair and hopelessness to a life lived productively and meaningfully.

Two of the panellists who are HIV-positive share their experiences of this process. One recounts how, living with Aids, his connections with others and human relatedness helped to restore his dignity and self-worth. The other relates how his willingness to state his status publicly allowed him to overcome the stigma and shame that are evoked when diagnosed as HIV-positive. This has allowed him to seek appropriate treatment with ARV's. He now lives with a chronic but manageable infection and leads a creative and significant life.

The difficulties encountered regarding the prevention of HIV/Aids when attempting to change potentially destructive sexual behaviours in teenagers are discussed. An inspiring account of work in treating those that live with HIV/Aids under difficult circumstances is also discussed.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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