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Q: This summer, three of my good friends are being married. I am happy for each of them and plan to attend their weddings. However, being 25 and in my first job, I am on a limited budget.

What is the appropriate amount to spend to attend a wedding with a guest? It does not help that one of the brides-to-be continually "reminds" me and the rest of our friends how much the wedding is costing her and her fiance - $100 a person - and how she hopes to get it all back in monetary gifts for the wedding.

I am appalled that she expects her guests to pay their way to her extravagant wedding. Should I feel pressured to give the exact amount that she is requesting?

Puzzled in Pennsylvania

A: You should, indeed, feel pressured because that is what your "good friend" is shamelessly doing. But do not give any more than you can comfortably afford. Take the bull by the horns, spell out your financial situation to her, and ask whether you'll be welcome if you can't come up with the "entrance fee."

True friends do not treat each other this way. If you're afraid your friendship will be over if you do it, allow me to point out that if she feels shortchanged, it will be over anyway.

A tragic situation

Q: My 27-year-old gay stepson, "Lance," returned from New York City last winter - out of work and informing us that he's HIV-positive. He has not sought medical assistance, and has men overnight.

I care deeply for Lance. I worry about his physical and mental health, and I don't know what to do. His father and I cannot afford to pay his medical bills, and he lives in our garage. With no job, and apparently depressed and in denial, Lance has already attacked me physically and has been rude and insulting - but most of all he does nothing to help his own situation. We have to buy his food and cigarettes and have supplied him with a computer. How can I help him?

Sick with Heartache in Calif.

A: It is very important that your stepson be medically and psychologically evaluated, because what he is doing is endangering not only himself but also his overnight "guests." The sooner he gets counseling and medication, the sooner he can get on with his life.

While there is still no cure for HIV, there have been enough medical advances that the condition can be managed for many years. This means that people with HIV can live productive and satisfying lives - but only if they get the treatment they need.

My advice is to stop enabling this young man and insist that he get treatment if he is to continue living at home. Your nearest gay and lesbian community center can refer you. To locate it, go to

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips. Find columns at

Universal Press Syndicate