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Concerned Wife
Oct 13, 2003

Dr. Bob,

Can you please give me some advice. My husband (we've been married for 25 years) is in the military and had sex with a prostitute in Thailand (says he used a condom that the prostitute provided) more than 3 years ago. He claims that several weeks after the encounter, strange things started happening to his body and became convinced that he had HIV. He attempted suicide and was sent back to the US for mental health and other problems. During this 3+ years, he's had 6 or 7 Elisa tests some for HIV 1 and 2 (all negative), 2 or 3 tests to check HIV (less than 50 copies) and 2 tests to check his T-Cell level (most recent about 3 months ago at 1206). He avoids sex or discussions about sex, because he is convinced that he will infect me with HIV. I've talked with some of his physicians and they all say he doesn't have HIV. I do notice that he sweats alot more than he used to (when no one else around us is sweating), seems to have a persistent need to clear his throat, gets frequent skin rashes and seems to be more tired than he used to. Do you think all of his problems could be related to stress or is there a strain of HIV that the tests could be missing? I want to get on with our lives but need some reassurance at this time.

Concerned

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Concerned,

These types of questions need to be posted to the Safe Sex/HIV Prevention Forum. This forum is dedicated to folks who are confirmed to be HIV-positive and having difficulty with fatigue and/or anemia. Consequently, I'll only be able to give a very brief reply here.

Yes, I do believe your husband's problems are psychological and not related to HIV. You may need reassurance, but he needs even more than that. He had protected sex over 3 years ago, 6-7 negative HIV 1/2 ELISA's, 2 or 3 negative viral load tests, and 2 tests to check T-cells (normal). Why are all these unnecessary tests being done? They are unnecessary, unwarranted, and an incredible waste of money. Despite this excessive testing, your husband avoids sex or discussions of sex, because he is "convinced" he will infect you. Your husband needs the help of a psychiatrist, particularly in light of his suicide attempt. His symptoms are consistent with anxiety and depression, not HIV. No, he does not have a rare strain of HIV. The next step to "getting on" with your life is addressing your husband's psychiatric problems. HIV is definitely not his (or your) problem. Good luck.

Dr. Bob


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