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HIV-positive with a fear of medical procedures-- what should I do?
Oct 18, 2002

Dear Dr,

There is a tender mass on the left hand side of my belly. Also I have swollen lower legs. Is this indicitive of something? I have avoided tests etc because of a genuine fear of medical procedures. I have been hiv+ for 16 years and have anemia and diabetes. Also I am female. My stools have become very thin.

Thank you.

Response from Dr. Dezube

A tender mass and change in stool (bowel movement) should indeed lead to further evaluation. Although I can't say which procedure I would do first, a change in bowel habit often leads to a colonscopy (evaluation of your colon). Many patients share this fear of medical procedures. Did you have a bad experience at some point? You need to muster up the strength to undergo procedures. Do you have a friend/family member who can accompany you? Do you have a counselor with whom you can discuss this situation? Can you find a sympathetic provider who can work with you and your fear? If your fear prevents you from getting the medical attention which you need, then little problems can often escalate into big problems. Please seek help.

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