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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 have one. 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.

Dear Abby: I’d like to know if there’s any way to stop my mother-in-law from inviting herself to every birthday party and graduation our children have. They are pre-teen and teenagers now. She has done this for years, and it often doesn’t end well. Because they are older, they prefer to hang out with their friends, do sleepovers, etc.

Because she insists on staying the night, it’s hard to have room for sleepovers. She complains if she has to sleep on the couch, and she also has a fit if she’s not getting enough attention from the kids because they’d rather be with their friends and not her the whole time.

I have tried explaining that she should come the weekend before or after, but she shows up on the birthday anyway. Her complaints ruin their birthdays, to the point that I no longer look forward to them. Any advice, since another birthday is right around the corner? (Maybe she’ll read this and have a change of heart.)

Miserable Mom in California

Dear Miserable Mom: Your mother-in-law sounds like a handful. However, I do believe that grandparents should be invited to milestones like graduations, where family is important.

It’s hard to imagine Grandma would simply show up at the kids’ party after being asked to stay away, but you can’t slam the door in her face. When she barges in, for your own sake, tune her complaining out. Walk away if you must. As to altering the sleeping arrangements to suit an uninvited guest — don’t do it.

Where is your husband in all of this? She’s his mother; if you can’t make her see reason, then he should.

It’s normal for teens to want to celebrate with their contemporaries — and Grandma had better get used to it before they turn tail and run whenever they see her coming.

Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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