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FROM AN AMERICAN IN SOUTH AFRICA - PLEASE HELP
Feb 5, 2002

Dear Dr Frascino. Please read and help me. I am in South Africa and a encountered a very low risk situation (oral sex with a sex worker without a condom.) I thought that there was no risk. Within days I developed flu-like tendencies, fatigue blurred vision, total personality change, persistent headache and total fear for height - dizziness, weak legs. I think I had a rash - just above my nipples - I had some raised bumps - is this what you call rash? These symptoms still exist. I do not find joy in doing anything except reading websites on HIV. However on the 14 th day I indicated to my employer that I needed life insurance cover in South Africa. The insurance company sent me for a HIV test and full blood count. All tests came back negative. I read on some websites that in South Africa, they have tests that can detect HIV within 14 days of an exposure. Would the other tests that they conducted - full blood count - help in anyways to detect HIV? I am saddened that here in South Africa - a very negative attitude towards HIV has developed. I have just started reading your discussions. I hope I will continue. You are really great with your responses. I have few months more in South Africa and I will join Jack in New York.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Your risk was very low and your symptoms not consistent with a conversion reaction. What I'm most concerned about is your statement that you "do not find joy in doing anything except reading websites on HIV." OK, so maybe you can't get HBO's "Sex and The City" or "The Sopranos" in South Africa, but I'm absolutely sure there are more entertaining things to do than read HIV websites (mine excluded, of course). You're in South Africa. What about a safari? If life has really lost its fun and charm, you may well be depressed. I'd recommend turning off the computer, beginning an exercise program, and seeking out some professional counseling. And don't forget that photographic safari. N.Y. Jack will want to see photos when you get back to the real jungle - NYC.

Stay well.

Dr. Bob


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