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extreme fatigue, "you look pale"
May 13, 2002

I had PROTECTED sex with a man where I was penetrated. I am unsure of his status but for the last 3 weeks I have been really run down feeling. I have had several people say hey you look pale! You getting sick? I was not all that worried about HIV until all this since a condom was used. I tested negative at 7 weeks but I am very nervous about getting re-tested. I have also lost 6 pounds in the last 2 months but I think I have been eating a little lighter but of course I tell myself sometimes.....I have HIV oh no..... Can you shed any light on the fact or give a little professional advice or re-assurance since a condom was used etc? I try everyday to get re-tested but I talk myself out of it and say if I wait 1 more month it will be 6 months then it will be a sure thing etc....Help!

Response from Dr. Frascino


OK, let's start with the definition of "protected." It means to shield from injury or danger. So assuming your shield was intact, you did not put yourself in danger. Second, you tested negative at 7 weeks. What could that mean??? How about - no evidence of HIV antibodies at the 7-week interval? This is very good news, as most people would have seroconverted by this time.

So what about those several folks who have told you that you look pale? You yourself say you've been feeling run down. This could be due to any number of factors - lack of sleep, inadequate diet and/or exercise, stress, anxiety, overwork, an intercurrent illness such as the flu, etc., etc., etc. Why immediately jump to HIV as the cause, rather than say Bubonic Plague, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, or Lyme Disease? Like HIV, you don't have any reason to have these illnesses either.

So what to do? If you're feeling run down and look pale, see your doctor. Maybe you are anemic, not from HIV, but perhaps from vitamin or iron deficiency, etc. Second, the next time one of these folks says something like that, just look them in the eye and say, "Well, have you looked in the mirror today? You kind of resemble a day-old-cake yourself."

Stay well; you're negative. Continue to use protection and you'll stay that way.

Dr. Bob

obsessing with worry
spanish guy needs help

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