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BEYOND PARANOID AND SCARED!
Feb 7, 2003

Hi there! I'm writing because I'm all consumed with the possibilty I've contracted HIV. About 5 years ago, I was working as ICU nurse in LA and was exposed by a blood splash to my face from a HIV positive patient. My initial test was negative as was my 6 month test. Additionally, I was tested in September 2000 because of a new relationship and was negative. I should stress I do not nor have I had a high risk lifestyle as per unprotected sex. However,I've been all consumed since my exposure: sleepless nights, panic attacks, crying, investigations into every inch of my body for signs of disease, etc. Recently, this past summer I was experiencing a sense of unbalance while standing. All tests were negative and nothing found. It subsided after a course of steroids but upon finishing, I developed Enterobacter in my throat and possile Herpes Simplex-1 lesion on my chin as per my dermatologist, which left a small scar but resided after a course of Cipro. I have never had such bacterial infections nor fever or cold sores. How come now? OK, present day! I was having epigastric and LUQ pain and diagnosed with gastritis. The blood work revealed positive H. Pylori and now taking Prevpac as treatment. I then reviewed my blood work with my physician, who is not worried at all and is aware of my fears of HIV infection, and noticed my WBC count was 2.9 and my ANC was 1163. I immediately freaked out! What does this mean? How could this happen when it has never happened before? To elaborate, I thought this fear of HIV was over in 2000 but now it's back full force. I really don't want to have another test, it was so extremely stressful all the other times, does car accident say enough? What is the possibilty I have HIV? Would I have other symptoms by now such as Candida? What should I do from here? I need your expertise and guidance, please respond! Thanking you, Beyond Paranoid and Scared!

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Beyond Paranoid and Scared,

Questions like these need to be posted to our Safe Sex/HIV Prevention Forum.

Briefly, "What are the chances you have HIV?" Exactly Zero - Zip, Zilch, Nada!

OK, you had an exposure and that's scary, but you've tested repeatedly negative several years past the exposure date. This is absolutely conclusive. You just can't get any more negative than that!

Your medical problems over the intervening 5 years are not at all worrisome for HIV. Enterobacter, Herpes, H. Pylori, etc. are routine things that happen to us humans. Your recent mildly low WBC count and ANC probably reflect a common viral (not HIV) infection, as in a common cold, etc. Your doctor should repeat this test in a few weeks. If they are still low, he can proceed with a routine workup for conditions causing low white blood cell counts. Just rest assured that HIV is not your problem. However being "Paranoid and Scared," "all consumed," and having "sleepless nights, panic attacks, crying, investigating every inch of your body for signs of disease, etc." are indeed your problems.

"What should you do from here?" You need to ask your doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist who can help you come to grips with your anxiety, stress, and irrational fears. Don't wait; you do need help, and the sooner the better.

Best of luck. If you do follow my "expertise and guidance," I'm convinced you'll soon be feeling much better.

Dr. Bob


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