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Ask Rene: AIDS And The In-Laws.. Should I Be Worried?

Ask Rene: Do I Tell My Friend Her Son Has HIV?

Ask Rene:
AIDS And The In-Laws.. Should I Be Worried?

Hi Rene.

My husband and I have been married for ten years. We have three small children, one of which is an infant. About three years ago we found out that my husband’s sister and her husband both have AIDS. They were both unfaithful during their marriage.

Since then I have not been comfortable with my small children being around them. I have expressed this to my husband, but since it is his sister, he brushes it off. His entire family acts like nothing is wrong and no one takes any safety precautions around them (whatever they could be).

I recently went out of town on a business trip and my husband took my children to their home without my knowledge and they stayed overnight. He did not tell me because he knew I would be upset.  During the visit she held my children and rocked one of them to sleep. I am not at all comfortable with this!

Now that I have a newborn, I am even more anxious with my children being around them. The family wants us to visit and I do not want to go nor do I want my children to go.  I do not want some freak accident to happen and have my children or myself contract this disease. Am I being unreasonable?

Torn in the South


Dear Torn:

Wow, well yes, you have a problem but I’m pretty sure it’s not the one you’re thinking of. Before I launch into my answer, let me say I am not a medical doctor; any information or advice I give should be backed up with the opinion of a medical professional. Having said that, here’s what I would do if I were you.

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"Knowledge is power" text written on blackboard over white background


Now is not the time for wild speculation or fear; you need facts. Talk to your doctor, pediatrician or some other health professional so you can adequately assess the risk to you and your family. But an important thing to remember is that HIV is not transmitted through casual contact. Check out solid resources like for more information.

Read more:  Ask Rene: Do I Tell My Friend Her Son Has HIV?




People think if they just don’t talk about something it will go away. Not so in this case or any other, for that matter. You need to have a conversation with your brother and sister in-law. Ask them as many questions as you want but limit them to details of the disease, not their dalliances. The goal here is not to conduct some sort of inquisition, rather to find out information.

Read more:  Ask Rene: How Could He Do This To Me? 



Whoo-wee, this.. THIS right here is what I alluded to and what I think is the real problem. Your husband knew you did not feel comfortable with your kids spending time with their HIV-positive aunt and uncle. Yet when you went out of town, not only did he take them over there and spend the night, he didn’t tell you. The reason he didn’t tell you is because he knew you would say no. Now you decide what you want to call that, but in my book, that’s a decided lack of respect. That is the crux of this issue and one that really needs to be handled. You have to talk to your husband and tell him how that made you feel; you might have to see a counselor but the bottom line is, it’s hard to build a formidable marriage without one of the basic tenets, which is respect.

Read more:  What’s Love Got To Do WIth It? 19 Lessons In 19 Years Of Marriage


Lastly, once you know the risks, understand this is an opportunity for education and compassion.  So make sure, when reaching into your bag of emotion, pull out caring and concern ahead of judgment.

Good luck!

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Ask Rene: Should I Worry About My Daughter’s Friend?

Paying It Forward: Dr. Harold P. Freeman And The Patient Navigation Program



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  1. Yonnie

    February 7, 2013 at 8:43 am

    This is all very good advice, especially the part about talking to her husband about respect (and trust). I understand you not wanting to insult your reader, but allow me to be blunt: It is 2013. Any person who has read 1 article about HIV/AIDS knows that you do not get the disease from holding a child and rocking them to sleep! I’m not saying that Torn’s concerns are 100% invalid…. but they’re largely ridiculous.

  2. Deon Smith

    February 7, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Where to begin on this one….Before digging into my thoughts, I must admit that before you focused on it, I clearly by passed the “respect” issue with this couple. And even though it perhaps at some point needs to be addressed, in my eyes its secondary. Now, her concerns ARE valid (primarily due to fear and levels of being improperly informed) however, THIS IS 2013, and her state of denial and delusion over this epidemic doesnt help the issue as a whole. It puzzles me to this day how so many EDUCATED people are misinformed on AIDS and HIV. Last week on Facebook people were sharing a “notice” that people were leaving HIV tainted needles underneath nozzles at gas stations. I had to alert people that this was urban legend and also that the virus dies after exposure to oxygen prohibiting that type of transmission. With our laptops, tablets, cell phones, and computers, the resources are endless to properly educate ourselves on this epidemic. Also their numerous counselors and medical specialist that would be more than willing to assist with this locally. For this woman in particular, I would strongly advise for to seek out either a shelter,hospice, or caregiving facility that deals with children living with HIV to volunteer her time [either we are part of the problem or the solution]so that the reality can be TANGIBLE to her. For many when it comes to this issue its like “out of sight, out of mind” and that needs to stop.

  3. Gigi

    February 7, 2013 at 9:13 am

    I’m confused. How did a letter from 1985 get posted on a website? Day to day contact? Are you kidding me?! Even by the 90s the general population understood that basic contact without blood or bodily fluid is zero risk. I’m also going to go out on a limb and guess it isn’t full blown AIDS based on this writers grasp of the virus.

  4. Deon Smith

    February 7, 2013 at 9:24 am

    (Gigi, regarding your final sentence, I was thinking the SAME THING….)

  5. Erica B.

    February 7, 2013 at 9:35 am

    It’s 2013, not 1983. Can you really be that ignorant? Two people with compromised immune systems shouldn’t want to be around your children. Kids carry all sorts of viruses. And being that it’s a horrible flu season, if I were them I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near your little Petri dishes.

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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