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Fatigued from worry and night sweats downunder
Sep 1, 2001

Dear Dr Bob

Sorry to trouble you with my unwelcome and inappropriate "am I infected question" but after reading your posts over a period of time I have become a member of the Dr Bob fan club, like many others, because of your knowledge, positive outlook and quirky sense of humour. You're a legend! (And I'm not just sucking up - well, maybe a bit.)

Also, there is a slight fatigue connection in that I have been suffering from regular night sweats which means I wake up fatigued.

Here's my problem. For a long time I have had an obsession about having contracted HIV, even though I have had no sexual exposures since a negative test 10 years ago. I also have never injected drugs. I keep going over possible exposures like:

A) Acrylic nail salon. One day I was told by the operator that there was a transgender person in the day before (about 15 hours before my appointment). I keep thinking what if this person's skin was nicked when their nails were being filed (doesn't happen often but it does happen very occasionally) and a trace of their blood could have contaminated the cuticle oil which is painted onto everyone's cuticles with a shared brush. At the time I had a little cut under one of my nails.

B. A kiss on the cheek by guys with HIV-AIDS. I used to know a couple of guys with HIV-AIDS and they once kissed me on the cheek.

C. Contaminated dental/surgical instruments (even though my dentist assures me he was one of the first practices to use autoclave sterilisation many years ago). I have also had two colonoscopies and worry about the endoscopy equipment.

Lately I have been having these night sweats. This year I have also had dry flaky skin on hands (I worry about possible tinea but it's probably just dry skin), toenail fungus and eczema on ankles (now better).

My doctor thinks the night sweats could be perimenopause as I am a 47 year old woman, but of course I continue to think the worst.

I am driving myself mental going over and over these possible left-field exposures in my mind, even though my net research tells me there are no official records of anyone having been infected by these methods (except for the one isolated dentist cluster in Florida).

What do you think the chances are that I could be infected based on these possible exposures?

I am too scared to have a test, partly because I worry about a possible positive result, partly because I read about inderminant results which would be just too stressful to bear!

I'm sweating on an answer, Dr Bob!

Your number one Australian fan

Response from Dr. Frascino

G'day Mate!

Can women friends be "mates?" Your question does indeed belong in the "Safe Sex and Prevention" expert forum. However, since I have such a soft spot for the Land Down Under and there is that fatigue connection . . . .

From what you've mentioned in your question, I'd say you have a much greater chance of being done in by one of your nasty funnel-web spiders, or maybe mutant gigantic Tasmanian Devils, rather than HIV. Having nails like Barbra Streisand, even if a transgender person was in the same shop 15 hours before, is not a risk! And being pecked on the cheek by a couple of guys with HIV? Now think about it. If that caused HIV, the 100-mile radius around Oxford Street would all be HIV-positive. In fact, the whole planet would be wiped out by now. Let me assure you, as an HIV-positive guy, I have not given up kissing! (After all, I'm Italian!) Dental work and colonoscopies also do not carry risk when routine precautions are implemented.

So from your potential exposures, your risk of contracting HIV would have the same odds as a Koala Bear mating with a Kookaburra and having an offspring that looked like a kangaroo.

So, why the night sweats? Faulty air conditioning? Sexy dreams? Menopause? Lots of possibilities, but not HIV, OK? If you're really so worried, go get tested. Indeterminate results are very rare these days and can be confirmed one way or the other with secondary tests. Australia is too wonderful a place to waste, even for one moment, on these irrational fears. Get counseling if you need it to help you get over these impediments to happiness.

Now, throw another shrimp on the Barbie, or better yet, head for Doyle's on the beach, order the John Dorey and a nice Aussi Chardonnay, and watch the sun set. I can't have my fan club afraid to get their nails done, or their teeth cleaned! And next time I come there to lecture, you better be ready for a hug and peck on the cheek from this HIV-positive guy! OK?

Stay well.

Dr. Bob


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