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I am grateful
May 30, 2001

Dear Dr. Bob, Let me first convey my best regards to you. I thought I'll write you after I get tested but it looks like it would be too late then because I dont know if I would be under my control after that. I am sorry for writing this here as I know I am wasting your time and the time of the others. I am a 29 year old male from india, have come to the states for 6 months. I had sex, protected, (used condoms) oral and vaginal with a sex worker 2 months ago. And my world is completely changed after that. I am a research associate in physics, and for the last two months I hardly have done anything for physics, my job is at stake along with my life. Two days after the accident (the sex event) I started getting things like mild nausea, my fingers used to be numb when I get up from sleep. On the tenth day, I felt feverish, with some muscle pain, tingling sensation in the fingers, lymphnodes, some of my lymphnodes in the neck were swollen. And as usual the internet made me wild as I browsed and browsed 24 hours about HIV. The fever went away after 7 days but came back after 2 days. The fever I think was low grade. On the 17th day, I went to a Doc. She did tests (CBC etc) and concluded its a viral one. She asked me to check my temp too. I found when I feel feverish (i get chills) my temp is max (oral 99.2) which last for 5/6 hours along with muscle pains, and I get a sore throat or sinus aches or some regions in my neck, ear would be tender or I'll get loose motion (may be diarrhea, but its not very watery all the time) or night sweats. But they never last for days, go away in 1 day. Thats what is continuing for last 2 months. Im not well even for a single day. I saw the Doc again 2 days ago, she said after doing Chest Xray, its not TB and after hearing about the event she thinks HIV is a possibility as no virus hangs around for such s long time. She found some green spot inside one of my nose which she thinks is caused by some allergy like dust mites. But she is not sure if that is causing all these symptoms. She gave me some clariton and I feel better after taking that, but again yesterday I got chills and a sore throat which is almost not there today morning as I am writng th mail. She rather thinks of HIV as I do the same. And its not easy to get in terms with the fact that I have that. Life appears to be heading towards a dead end. Neither do I have a permanent job, nor money, so treatment is out of question. Neither I am an US citizen so I cant avail clinical trails or financial assistance. More than all that most probably I wont be able to tolerate the side effects and if I cant live an active life .... I cant find the answer to this. There is no one around I can discuss all these so I have to move with a plastic smile and spend sleepless nights. Its a neverending journey in hell. Thanks a lot for reading. Your writings always give me a source of inspiration, probably the only ones I have. World is a beautiful place to live because of people like you. I dont know what am I exactly asking here, but just felt like writing. Best wishes, T

Response from Dr. Frascino

Dear T,

OK, sit down, take some deep breaths, and read this carefully. If you had "protected" sex with condoms, your risk of HIV is extremely low, practically non-existent! Your symptoms of mild nausea, numbness, tingling, fleeting muscle pains, and loose stools are not really consistent with an HIV conversion reaction. It's much more consistent with anxiety, related to your fear of being infected. Most likely, you are not.

Re-read your letter. "Life appears to be heading toward a dead end . . . . I wont be able to tolerate the side-effects and if I can't live an active life . . . . It's a never-ending journey in hell."

Those are very scary thoughts and you are imagining the very worst possible scenario. Please calm down. I'm quite certain you'll be very relieved when you get your negative test results back! Check out other information on The Body's Safe Sex and Prevention Forum. See a therapist if you are having trouble with feelings of guilt or anxiety.

I do agree with you: The world is a beautiful place to live, even for those of us who are HIV-positive. In fact, sometimes I think we may even appreciate that beauty more than most. So please enjoy your world, your life, and your health, whether you are HIV-positive (very, very doubtful) or not (most likely!)

Stay well,

RJF


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