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Dear Abby: About six years ago, you printed a letter from a young man infected with HIV. He wanted to tell his family, but he was afraid of the repercuss- ions.

You told him in a firm but gentle way that he should inform his family immediately because he needed their love and support. This response affected me profoundly.Seven years ago, I was diagnosed as HIV-positive. After reading that letter and your response, I felt compelled to inform my family of the diagnosis. First, I discussed it with my companion (who is also HIV-positive), then I spoke with my oldest brother, who has been a buddy to me since childhood.

Upon his visit from the Midwest, my whole family was together, except for one brother. It was difficult to tell them, but their reaction was wonderfully warm, loving and supportive.

A year later, when my other brother returned from overseas duty, he was also informed. It was more difficult to tell him, because he is my twin.

Since then, my companion and I have received much-needed emotional support from my family. Without it, I never could have made it.

If you print my letter, please sign me . . .

- Loved and Lucky in New Jersey

Dear Loved and lucky: God bless you. You are indeed lucky. Unfortunately, not all families are as loving and supportive as yours.

Dear Abby: My wife, "Alice," and I need to settle a serious difference of opinion.

"John" and "Mary" were our closest friends. My wife recently informed me that she had a "thing" for John. (She called it a "crush.") John became obsessed with her when he was having trouble at home. During the day, John would call me at work to make sure I wasn't home, then he'd jog over to our house to see Alice. These visits were unsolicited and unplanned on her part, but she didn't exactly discourage him. To make matters worse, our children and theirs are very close.

One day after calling me, and lying to his wife, John jogged over to our place, and his wife followed him. When he saw her, he ran out the back door and jumped the fence. Needless to say, even though we have openly discussed the situation, I no longer trust John.

My wife sees nothing wrong with continuing our friendship with this couple as though nothing has happened. Now I can't stand the sight of John and don't want to socialize with him, but we can't avoid seeing them at church, school activities and sporting events.

I say, with friends like these, who needs enemies? Am I wrong?

- Burned By a "Friend"

Dear Burned: No, you're not wrong; your feelings of betrayal are justified, and no one could fault you for wanting to distance yourself from this couple. To continue the friendship as though nothing has happened would be tempting the fates.

You and your wife would be wise to make new friends, and make sure things remain strictly on a friendship basis.

Day-brightener: An anonymous reader sent me the "joke" page of her church bulletin. On that page was a cute story with a terrific message:

Mother Mouse was crossing the street with her three little children. She got about halfway across the road when she spotted a cat, crouched and ready to pounce upon them. The cat and Mother Mouse eyeballed each other for two to three minutes. Finally, Mother Mouse opened her mouth and let out an enormous "WOOF." The cat quickly scurried away.

Mother Mouse turned to her three little ones and said, "NOW do you see the advantage of a second language?"