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Fatigue and AnemiaFatigue and Anemia
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Hoping to Woohoo
Sep 30, 2003

Dr. Bob,

First of all, Id like to tell you how much I and many others appreciate what you do. Without expecting anything in return, you have helped so many people get thorough a very difficult time in an ever-changing world.

I recently took an HIV ELISA test in St. Louis, MO. Talk about a scary experience! I was worried sick (and to tell the truth, I still am). After what seemed like an eternity (32 hours), I got the results back from Quest Diagnostics. The test came back non-reactive. I was so incredibly happy! However, this experience has caused both good and bad side effects. The good part is that I dont take life for granted anymore. The bad part is that anxiety has caused me to overanalyze the situation. After I read about hiv-2 on the CDC webpage, I started to wonder. Granted, Ive never shared needles nor had sex with a native of West Africa, but I was still worried.

I called both of the women that I had sexual contact with. One of them tested negative and is also a regular blood donor (Good news, rules out hiv-1/2 and Hep C, among other things). The other one said she got tested and didnt have anything. While this probably rules out hiv-1, it doesnt necessarily rule out hiv-2. (Although the 60-90 chance that one test or the other would have picked it up is promising).

My main question to you is this: When an hiv-1 test is reactive (since cross-reactivity exists), do labs have a way of knowing whether it is hiv-1 or hiv-2? Id hate to think that hiv-2 statistics are underestimated and that theyd send us on our merry way thinking we are ok and possibly infect other people. Id also hate to think that x number of years from now (since hiv-2 doesnt kill as quickly) that Id find out that my worst fears are true. Im debating whether or not to get tested for hiv-2. Rick Sowadsky was asked a similar question and told the person that he needed counseling to help him deal with his fear of hiv, and that hiv-2 testing was unnecessary. I think that he is probably right and this holds true in my case. Yet this cross-reactivity issue has me concerned. There is a way to tell hiv-1 and hiv-2 apart, right?

God bless you, Nathan

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Nathan,

This forum is dedicated to fatigue and anemia concerns. Your question belongs in the safe sex/HIV prevention forum, so I'll only be able to answer very briefly.

Yes, there are very specific ways to analyze for HIV-1 versus HIV-2. I agree you are "overanalyzing" your situation. HIV (1 or 2) is not your problem. Yes, consider getting some counseling if you can't cope with these unreasonable fears. They really are irrational. You should be WOO-HOOing, not WORRYING!

Stay well.

Dr. Bob

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