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Another chance for fatherhood - follow up question
Jan 17, 2002

Dear Dr. Bob,

Thanks a million for answering my question. It made me feel so much better. I have no one to share these worries with, and living in a foreign country makes it more difficult since most of my friends and family are living back in Sweden. Going through the window period with all the guilt and anxiety with no one to share it with is really tough. I realise that due to privacy and stigma concerns, most people are in the same position, but your response really helped as it made me feel much less alone with my fear.

Now, to my follow up question: You suggest that I get a HIV PCR with my next antibody test (my previous test was done anonymously at a Health Dept site - I was planning to go back there today for the 16 week test - but I take it you think I should see a Doctor instead?). I have read on the internet that the HIV PCR often yields false positives. Is this true, and to what extent should I be worried about this? With the conflicting info on the window period (3 vs 6 months, etc), it is really hard to let go of the fear without being very close to 100 sure. I love my wife above all else, and I don't know what I'd do if I exposed her to HIV due to my stupidity.

Thank you again and God Bless! You will forever be in my prayers!

Oh, I wanted to make an anonymous donation to your foundation. How to I go about doing that?

Still Praying for another chance at Fatherhood

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello again "Still Praying for Another Chance at Fatherhood,"

Thanks for writing back and for your very kind words. Living with uncertainty is indeed quite nerve racking! Hang in there. You'll soon be out of the woods!

All tests can have some false-negative or false-positive results. However, these are extremely rare. If they weren't, the test would be essentially useless. Should you be worried about this? No. With your negative ELISA test and the presumed negative 16-week repeat ELISA, it would be extremely unlikely that you are infected with HIV. The reason I suggested the PCR is that it is not dependent on antibody formation like the ELISA. At 16 weeks, if your PCR is negative and your repeat ELISA is also negative, it would definitely be time to book that romantic weekend get-away! Alternatively, a negative ELISA at 6 months post-exposure is also considered proof you are not HIV-positive.

Since both you and your wife are anxious to get you back in the saddle again, I suggested the PCR with your next (16 weeks) blood work to give that extra assurance that you are not going to expose your wife to the virus. Future "Dad," remember that I really do believe you are negative. If you want to visit a clinic or physician to get the HIV PCR or if you prefer to wait for the anonymous test site, either would be fine. The results will be the same.

Remember not to be too hard on yourself regarding your "indiscretion." We are all human; we all make mistakes. Learning from our mistakes is the key. As I said before, I'm convinced you are a loving and compassionate husband and your son (or daughter) will be one lucky youngster to have you as his/her dad.

Thanks also for your very kind offer to make a donation to The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation. The Foundation's sole mission is to fund crucial services for men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS and to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic through advocacy and education. We have recently been working to help provide anti-HIV medications to HIV-positive pregnant moms in Africa to decrease the risk of their passing the infection on to their babies.

Donations can be made by sending a check to:

The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation 779 Altos Oaks Drive, Suite 200 Los Altos, CA 94024

If you would like it to be listed as anonymous on all our records, merely enclose a note indicating the gift is to be anonymous. Others have sent gifts "in memory of" or "in honor of," etc. We are delighted to oblige!

Stay well, and go ahead and start wallpapering the new baby nursery!

Dr. Bob


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