Overheard on CNN.com: Dealing with HIV/AIDS while homeless
Crystal, 46, lives on the streets of Atlanta, Georgia, and wants to stop using drugs.
December 1st, 2011
05:16 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Dealing with HIV/AIDS while homeless

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Readers were uneasy after reading a profile of Crystal, an HIV-infected woman who is homeless in  Atlanta. CNN followed her story in conjunction with World AIDS Day, which is December 1. She's battled drugs and health issues, and bounced through a number of shaky living situations. At a time when Americans are struggling with the effects of a challenging economy, the story touched many nerves.

Pieces of Crystal: Homeless and HIV-positive in Atlanta

Commenter lurgy wrote the most-liked comment: "I normally skim these stories (about people like Crystal), but I think you have to expose yourself to it sometimes. I have relatives who died from drug overdoses, and the truth is, it could have been any one of us in her shoes, if circumstances were different."

Another popular comment from MTeeBizzy took the opposite view: "She has ruined her own life. Are we supposed to feel sorry for her? Why should we? It's her own fault that she ended up the way she did."

Personal responsibility was a major theme in many comments. Take this exchange:

YodarCritch: "You want to know why I don't have a lot of sympathy for her? 'Crystal has tried a few shelters, but she didn't like all the rules that went along with staying at them.' That's why. The lesson she never learned and refuses to learn is that we all live under rules. That's part of living in a society."

LostinSLC: "It is her own fault and she is not looking for sympathy, just understanding. My sister was just like her and lived in San Fransisco. Finally a few years ago she realized she needed to clean up and she did. She went back to school, got her education and now works in a law firm. Drugs can consume you, and if you think it is just that easy to stop, it isn't. Just understand, that is all she is asking."

We also heard lots of personal stories from other readers.

ReallyJersey: "I watched my father's cousin destroy herself. She had a home, a kind husband, and three adorable kids. Everyone tried to help. I remember my father opening our home to her. By the time she died on the street it was all gone. It took the caring detectives a week to find us. She was dead at 39, of liver failure. Sadly, Crystal reminds me of her. God give Tanya rest, it still hurts to think of her."

MsNene26: "I don't feel sorry for her. She made the choice to get on this roller coaster. Even before the car accident, she was out of control. Yet she tries to blame that on her hardworking parents. Oh please give me a break. People need to start taking responsibility for themselves! I am the daughter of an addict. My mother has been in recovery for years. I was 14 years old when my mother left. I was left with my father and two younger sisters and I was pregnant. So here I was with no mother and three children. My father worked long hours. He had to, in order to feed and clothe us. And even with all that was going on I didn't turn around and feel sorry for myself. I didn't take the easy way out and start using drugs to escape my problems, some of which I had no control over. I made the decision that I was going to make it one way or another. She made the choice that she is going to use drugs. There is no shortage of information on how addictive and destructive drugs are. The first time someone offered her drugs she could have said 'no.' Had she done that she would have never become an addict in the first place. But she didn't do that. Knowing the risk she took the drugs the first time which lead to the life she lives now. I don't feel sorry for her at all, especially after so many people have tried to help her."

There's certainly lots of questions to ponder. How do you deal with HIV when you don't have a stable home? What causes people to become homeless? And, what can or should be done about it? Tell us what you think about the story. Did it make you think, or did it remind you of someone you know?

Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ Nicole Sardi:
    Thank you for being concerned about the problem of hijacking others' names.
    Hijacking does create a lot of annoyance here.
    CNN has proven its ability to program its filter to block words as filthy and disgusting as
    With the same expertise and equipment, it would be possible for CNN to reject a user "name" previously taken by a different computer or telephone.
    If CNN has made a decision not to block the hijacking, CNN's executives must find it to their advantage to allow the hijacking to continue.
    CNN is a business.
    Businesses' primary concern is making money.
    Hm...now how could I turn the knowledge that a company's allowing hijacking is financially beneficial into a profit for myself?

    December 3, 2011 at 3:37 am | Report abuse |
  2. jeff

    She WANTS to stop using drugs. Yeah, right. ha ha ha ha ha

    December 3, 2011 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. Kelly

    When i used to read these comments, they were insightful and thought-provoking. Now it has the feel of a kindergarten classroom with this trolling and general silliness. Surely CNN can do something about this before we all give up and go elsewhere?

    December 3, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dizzyblonde

    There is a lot of misery on this earth, people know their choices have consequences, some are born with many strikes against them, not an excuse; reality. Drugs compound problems, sometimes love and caring can be the cure, sometimes not, Those of us who believe in God can pray for the lives affected by those who cannot help themselves.

    December 3, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
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