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What is happening to me?
Jul 28, 2004

Hi Doctor

Sorry if this is a bit long. I am a gay male who practised unsafe sex once about 3 years ago. In between this and early this year I never tested for HIV because I was too worried.

Over the last year I have been experiencing very bad gum disease and was getting stressed about it. I have been to the dentist many times. Then I read on the internet about HIV gingivitis and how untreatable it is. Immediately I "realised" I had AIDS. I quickly booked myself in for a HIV test. In the weeks between this and the results I spent all day and night reading about the symptoms of AIDS- diarrhea, weight loss, gum disease, KS. To my horror I seemed to be suffering from all these things (even had a small red patch on my upper chest). I went for my result and was near breaking point thinking that I had contracted full blown AIDS in under 3 years. The doctor came in and told me to stop being so concerned, everything was in the clear. No HIV 1/2. This is where I should have been ecstatic but in fact everything has gone downhill since. Within hours I read on the web about clerical errors causing false negatives.

I went back to the clinic 1 month later and demanded a re-test due to the "clerical error". I just couldn't believe that I could by co-incidence have AIDS symptoms and be HIV negative. Again the result came back negative.

Then I read about O strain. Putting 2 and 2 together I now had undetectable and untreatable HIV.

Another month passed and I went to a different clinic and told them I had O strain. The doctor never even heard of it. But they carried out their standard HIV test. Again negative.

Then I went to my doctor and asked him for a CD4 count. Reluctantly he did this and I phoned him a week later to get the results. He told me everything is Normal.

Now I have got it into my head that he never carried out the test and told me that everything was normal just to keep me happy.

I told him this and now he wants me to see a psychiatrist. I just cannot accept that I could develop AIDS symptoms after risky behaviour and not be HIV negative. I have lived this nightmare now for over 6 months and don't know what to do.

Response from Dr. Horwath

You've had multiple HIV tests that show you are HIV-negative. Each test is highly sensitive. The likelihood that they would all be false negatives is really zero.

The problem you are experiencing is an anxiety disorder. Your doctor was right. You should get help from a psychiatrist or other qualified mental health professional.



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