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To err is human, to woo hoo divine - which am I?
Nov 7, 2002

Dear Dr Bob,

Over the past 6 months your forum has been a god-send. Thank you for your insight and unstinting compassion and patience. Mind you, I'd hate to think how many hours I have spent at this site!

I have made a decision to try to woo hoo and move on. I have just posted my story on the "Am I infected" bulletin board but some people's responses have made me start wondering if I really should be woo hooing or not! What do you make of my story: I became sick 2 weeks post what I thought was a low risk exposure. As part of my symptoms I had a fever to the extent that I had to get up and have a shower during the night. This happened on one occasion only and had never ever happened before in my life nor has it since. I had fatigue like never before. I had weird tingling feelings. I had joint pains. I wasn't even thinking of hiv at the time, so that was not an "unconscious" influence. Then I discovered "thebody" and numerous other sites and "concluded" I had hiv. Too scared to have an hiv test, I had a CD4 count which - guess what -was low. Two further counts were also low - seriously low ie in the 370 - 410 region, although this has not changed.

I was sunk. I knew I had hiv, although I could accept that. Unfortunately I soon concluded that I had infected my wife (who also had to take a shower during the night some weeks later (after a single exposure to me)) and that my three year old son also had it. I couldn't live with what I'd done. I stopped work and would have commited suicide if I hadn't been serendipidously discovered in time.

I eventually saw a specialist in Sydney, Australia. This is where, as I am sure you know, ARS or primary hiv syndrome was first recognised. He was one of the team who reported it.

Guess what - my 9 week hiv 1&2 antibody and proviral dna were negative. "You don't have hiv" he said. Negative hiv 1&2 antibody tests at two different top-notch labs at 12, 16, 22 and 24 (166 days) weeks have helped convince me that I am probably OK even though I still don't feel right.

I went along with everyone's advice and saw a psych and got treatment for depression even though I didn't really feel that depression was the real problem. I'd never had any mental problems in my life. Furthermore the labs showed I'd got something.

I have always thought 3 possibilities: (1) I was a nutcase and imagined it all and this had some weird effect on my body, but this was unlikely because of my abnormal labs (low CD4, high ESR and CRP). (2) I have hiv but just haven't tested positive. I think however I should believe my tests, and all the doctors here tell me I don't have hiv (3) Perhaps I caught something else, although I have tested negative to hepatitis A, B and C, HSV1&2 IgM negative (HSV1 IgG positive), PB19, RRV and syphillis also negative out to 6 months. Perhaps doctors are good at ruling out what we don't have, but not so good at explaining what we might have?

Sorry about the long-winded note Doctor Bob - at the end of all that, my question is, can I woo hoo?!

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

You "discovered 'The Body' and numerous other sites and 'concluded' you have HIV?" I sure hope it was those "other sites" and not ours that led you to this conclusion!

Getting a CD4 test INSTEAD of an HIV test is never a good idea. CD4 cells are part of the body's immune defense system and are involved with lots of things other than HIV.

Thank goodness you found your way to the AIDS specialists in Sydney. I agree with them that your multiple negative HIV tests, antibody and proviral DNA-PCR, are absolutely conclusive: You do not have HIV.

I'm also glad you are undergoing treatment for depression. Please put those Judy Garland pills away for good!!!

What about your 3 possibilities:

1. You have abnormal lab tests, so you have or had something. However, that something is not HIV. Do I think you are a nut case? Well, no, just very scared. The suicide attempt, however, is worrisome, so do continue follow-up with your shrink. That doesn't make you're a nut case! Our psyche can get wounded or hurt just like any other part of our body. Similarly, it will get better and heal with appropriate care. 2. Nope. No chance this is still HIV. 3. Yes, you had some abnormal lab tests, so the doctors are searching for the cause, ruling out things as they go. If your CD4 counts remain depressed, ask to see an immunologist. They (we) are trained to evaluate these types of problems. Many conditions other than HIV can suppress the CD4s.

Can you WOO-HOO? Absolutely. You do not have HIV, so WOO-HOO to your heart's content.

I may be in Australia in Jan. or Feb., and I expect you to be there enjoying the surf at Manly or Bondi Beach. Stay well, mate!

Dr. Bob


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