fear of hiv 2 -ars rash 18 yrs ago
Jul 6, 2004
I am the best friend of someone who has worried for almost 15 years about a rash she developed 18-19 years ago that sounds like the ars rash: it was on her entire front torso for 2 wks. had many red oval blotchy shaped patches with pits of dark red (like a busted pimple) in the center of each bloch. Didn't itch. Some scale (she let me see it and although I have forgotten what it looked like, she continues to describe it everytime she gets worried that she is infected and has spread it to her children)
Anyway, I got her to go for the hiv test after 3yrs of talking her out of committing suicide many times. It was an hiv-1 test because no one was offering anonymous hiv 2 testing(still don't around here). Hiv 1 test came back negative. Then she learned about hiv-2 and has been depressed and convinced she has hiv-2 for 15 years!
I should mention my friend had a baby during all this and the baby had red blotches at 3wks on his back that lasted one day. This baby is now 14 and no signs of hiv.
Friend also thinks she infected another older child through a toothbrush she used in a rush one morning (before she ever knew anything about hiv) That son is now grown (15 yrs after the toothbrush incident) and has a child who also developed a rash like my friends at 3wks. This rash covered baby's face, torso (front and back) and even genital areas and upper thighs
You get the picture. She thinks she has killed 3 generations of her family!
I keep telling her that she would be sick by now if she had hiv 2 and certainly her son who is 15 that she thinks she infected at birth would have been real sick by now. I even had her call the CDC hotline and they told her the hiv 1 test picks up hiv 2 70-90% of the time. Still she goes bonkers at least once every month whenever she or her children or grandchild develop any illness
Maybe if you tell her, she will listen and finally get on with her life. (She is getting counseling already, but everytime one of her children get sick or she gets a cold she thinks its the beginning of the end of life as she has it now.
Does the rash she had sound like ars rash? Would she and her sons still be healthy after 15-19 years? It's 2 am and I just got off the phone with her crying because her son developed a hives like rash on his face and body. She says it some AIDS rash (eosino folliculitis?) This is her diagnosis not a dermatologists, of course.
I love my friend dearly. We have been best friends since childhood and I hate to see her throw her life away in worry like this. Is there anything else I can do to help her, besides listen and reassure? Last thing- I have been trying to get her to go get the hiv 2 test done under a fake name but her psychiatrist told her not to because she is so deep in this anxiety that she would just think she has hiv 3 and the rest of the world just hasn't discovered it yet? and that getting any test will just put more juice in her anxiety. Do you agree with the psychiatrist? Please answer this...15 years is a long time for her and for me to suffer! I don't want to lose her friendship but I'm too old to take 2am calls each month.
Response from Dr. Horwath
Your friend has a severe anxiety disorder. I'm glad to hear that she is seeing a psychiatrist.
The HIV test that she had should have settled her concerns if they were going to respond to reality, but her emotions are overpowering the facts. There is no harm in getting an HIV-2 test, but the prior experience with the HIV-1 test shows that it is also not likely to reassure her.
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