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NO PETS??????? WHY NOT??????????
Apr 5, 2009

Hi Doctor,

I have HIV and my smarmy doctor just told me I can't have a pet. I tried to protest but he said pets would definitely ruin any chance I had to survive. I'm bummed out. The internet research I did is so confusing. Can you give me the straight scoop on having a pet? Thanks, Peter

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hey Peter,

Whom do you have for a Doctor Cruella DeVille? Michael Vick? Peter, let me tell you first off I'm HIV positive; I'm an HIV specialist physician with over a quarter of a century of experience; and I have my pet pooch, Presto, sitting in my lap as I type this response!

Although there are some common sense pet safety measures I recommend for HIVers, to say categorically "no pets" is not only completely unwarranted, but it's also cruel!

So let's talk a bit about pets beginning with the most common: dogs and cats.

Cats can harbor toxoplasmosis gondii, the causative agent of toxoplasmosis. It's found in their poop. Consequently the way it can get into you is via Miss Kitty's litter box. If possible, someone else in the house should have litter box-emptying duties. If it's just you and Mr. Puss-and-Boots, I would suggest good hand-washing techniques, wearing gloves and changing the litter box on a daily basis. (Toxo is more easily contracted from stale poop that from the fresh variety.) Indoor cats are safer than alley cats.

Felix can also carry and transmit Bartonella, the bacteria that causes bacillary angiomatosis and cat-scratch disease. These sound scary, but they are not. In fact they are both treatable with antibiotics and only rarely seen in practice.

Dogs are safe, loveable and loyal. (Presto, my pooch, seconds that opinion.) Personally, I could never see myself living without a pooch in the house.

More bizarre pets, like reptiles or ferrets, can harbor certain germs. Consequently I'd suggest you consider giving your pet crocodile to a neighbor and get a dog!

If your HIV physician continues to be unreasonable about Toto, I'd suggest rather than giving up on your pet you give up your doctor and find a new one that has a heart.

Dr. Bob


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