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Sex in West Africa
Apr 3, 2002

Dear Dr. Bob,

While living in West Africa I had a sexual relationship (unprotected)from Aug. 97 to July 98. I tested negative (Elisa) in 4/97, 3/99, 12/99, 4/00 and 5/01(this was specifically for HIV 2). Do you think I am really negative? In 11/97 (3 months into relationship) I had a viral infection (flu-like symptoms, headache, etc.)that was treated with antibiotics. For the past two years I have had severe muscle weakness, muscle pains, fatigue, dizziness, and recurring bacterial vaginosis. I have been to 5 different doctors(one of which was an infectious disease specialist) and all tests performed have come back negative. Do you think I could have some undiscovered/undiagnosed form of HIV that does not show up on a regular HIV test?

I am now happily married to a wonderful man. I have shared my concerns with him and he thinks I am just a paranoid hypochondriac. What do you think? I live in fear that I contracted some unknown form of HIV and have given it to my husband.

Thanks in advance for your reply............Worried

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Worried,

You've had 5 different doctors and at least 5 ELISA tests, all telling you it's not HIV. Do I think you have an "undiscovered/undiagnosed" form of HIV that does not show up on a regular HIV test? No, the chance of that is zip, zero, zilch, nada! Paranoid hypochondriac? No, I just think you have some irrational fears about HIV. Perhaps some counseling could help you over that hurdle. Remarkably, stress and anxiety can produce an impressive array of medical symptoms. If 5 physicians haven't found a problem, it's certainly worth investigating whether psychological stress is inducing your symptoms. I'm quite certain HIV is not your problem. Well, now that's 6 doctors who all agree!

Continue to search for the cause of your symptoms, including psychological causes. Just stop trying to blame it on HIV, OK?

Dr. Bob


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