May 28, 2004
Last night I was looking in the mirror and noticed a rash on the back of my torso... However upon closer examination I realized that the rash had taken on the form of thebody.com's home page!!! YEP that's right; the familiar page we have all typed into our browser over and over again was now emblazoned across my back.... THEN I WOKE UP!!! I threw my face into my hands and started laughing. This was ABSURD and obviously was taking over my life. The following is a message to all the WW.
In the middle of the night in the last week of Feb. I suddenly jumped from my bed and ran into the hall. I stood there for a moment not knowing why or what I was doing... only that something was very wrong. I went back to bed uneasy and unsure what to do, and awoke the next morning feeling a fatigue that I had never felt before. I decided it must be HIV related and that I needed to get checked out.
The guy I had been seeing for roughly a month agreed to get tested with me. Although he assured me he was neg. because he hadn't done anything stupid. So we went to the clinic and I received my neg. rapid test. However, he emerged from the room with a much different expression. My heart dropped to my feet and I was looking at the scene completely removed from my body (or at least I'd have loved to be in anyone else's body at that moment). I had engaged in unprotected sex with an HIV+ person. NEVER had I imagined I could put MYSELF in this situation.
Immediately (two weeks after the last incident) my doc ran a pcr. After a week of NO sleep (NONE) Fever, Fatigue and diarrhea I found myself staring at the doctor as he read my results. SO, I wasn't shocked when he began to say, "your viral load is..." My heart sank and I began to cry. ...less than 500 copies, which indicates you are negative." HOLY FUCKING SHIT! WHAT? you mean these symptoms could not be chalked up to ARS?
I HAD UNPROTECTED SEX WITH AN HIV POSITIVE MAN AND IN THE MIDST OF A CONSTALTION OF TYPICAL ARS SYMPTOMS RECEIVED A NEGATIVE PCR!!!
Well I knew I wasn't out of the woods, but was a little more assured. However, that assurance was fleeting once the symptoms kept coming.... swollen lymph nodes, night sweats, rash, headache, muscle pain, sore throat... the list goes on and so did the sleepless nights.
As the months progressed I found myself on every possible website searching and learning about this disease. My doctor was quite impressed when I could talk to him about the disease with probably more knowledge than most general practitioners. If nothing else I'm MUCH more informed about the disease.
So, at the three month mark.. which is today, I once again emerged from the doctor's office with a negative test. WOO FUCKING HOO!... I WANT THE LAST THREE MONTHS OF MY LIFE BACK!!! I almost lost my job, I quit all my memberships to gyms, clubs etc. so I could pay for treatment and look where I'm at now.
I truly believe there is somebody watching over me... if I had not gotten ill in FEB. I'd still be having unprotected sex with an HIV poz man and I wouldn't be writing this email. SO... everyone know that just because you have unprotected sex with a sex worker of unknown serostatus doesn't mean you're infected. Take my word for it. I've been there and back. It's now time for me to make a positive effect on someone who is actually suffering from this disease. Don't know how I'm gonna do it, but I think I owe it to whoever was watching out for me.
Response from Dr. Frascino
Thank you for taking the time to write in and share your personal story and insights! I totally agree with your comments, so I'll make a few points about your story for emphasis. You can follow along with your original text..
1. "Last night I was looking in the mirror and noticed a rash on the back of my torso . . . ." Dude, trying to get a good look at your butt in the mirror can strain your neck. Try using a second hand-held mirror to admire the results of all those "butt-robics" and "yoga to look better naked" classes at your gym.
2. ". . . the rash has taken on the form of thebody.com's home page." Sorry guy, that wasn't a rash. It's part of our new marketing program. We've paid off all the tattoo artists. Now, whenever someone wants a back of the torso or butt tattoo, no matter what design they request or think they are getting, it's our homepage that gets inked in!
3. "The guy I had been seeing for a month . . . assured me he was neg. because he hadn't done anything stupid . . . . I had engaged in unprotected sex with an HIV+ person. NEVER had I imagined I could put MYSELF in this situation . . . . " Hello!?! Where have you been for the past 20+ years that we've been warning people about HIV/AIDS? Maybe we need to put a tattoo on your Mr. Happy to remind you and your barebacking partners that unprotected sex places you at risk for STDs, including HIV. At least half of the people in the U.S. who are HIV positive don't even realize it. So if you've been shagging or getting shagged without protection, how could you not "imagine" you were at risk? Perhaps you graduated from one of those religious schools?
4. "HOLY FUCKING SHIT! What? You mean these symptoms could not be chalked up to ARS?" "Holy?" Oh, so you did go to a religious school!
5. I HAD UNPROTECTED SEX WITH AN HIV-POSITIVE MAN AND IN THE MIDST OF A CONSTELLATION OF TYPICAL ARS SYMPTOMS RECEIVED A NEGATIVE PCR!!!" Yep, that's correct and statistically predicted as well. Check the archives for the estimated risk statistics for various sexual activities.
6. "Well I knew I wasn't out the woods . . . . The symptoms kept coming . . . . " These two statements are related and fairly predictable in hindsight, aren't they?
7. "As months progressed I found myself on every possible website searching . . . ." Dude, we tattooed the only homepage you needed on your butt, remember?
8. "WOO-FUCKING-HOO" Yes, we all agree! Congratulations!
9. "I WANT THE LAST THREE MONTHS OF MY LIFE BACK." Sorry guy, life only goes in one direction, despite the fact Bush and his cronies think they can drag the U.S. back to the puritanical Middle Ages.
10. "I almost lost my job, I quit all my memberships to gyms . . . ." What? No more butt-robics?!? We don't mind your almost losing your job; however, we would be really pissed if you let your butt tattoo sag and folks couldn't read our URL address when you're in the shower. So lace up those Pumas and get back to the gym!
11. ". . . unprotected sex . . . doesn't mean you're infected . . . ." Correct! And you don't blow your brains out with every pull of the trigger when playing Russian roulette with an NRA-sponsored gun either. But we still wouldn't recommend taking the risk.
12. ". . . I owe it to whoever was watching out for me . . ." Make a contribution (www.concertedeffort.org), volunteer your time at a local AIDS service organization, re-defeat Bush in November. . . . There are lots of ways to help. The choice is yours!
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