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Anxiety following sexual assault
Sep 10, 2011

Hello Doctor!

I was raped in October 2010. I have been tortured by fear and anxiety of being positive for ten months straight, when I finally mustered up the courage to get tested (August 2011). I did a rapid test from my local county clinic where they are offered free, and with counseling. It came back negative. I'm just so worried that possibly the lady administering the test lied to me. Does the "window period" ever take longer than 6 months? Thank you so much. I have an anxiety disorder as you can tell, and I really would like a respected doctor like yourself to give me a sense of well being again.

Response from Dr. Fawcett

I am so sorry to hear about your ordeal. A negative test six months after exposure is considered conclusive that you were not exposed to HIV. A trauma such as the one you experienced, however, can trigger a severe worsening of anxiety symptoms and revive emotional pain of past traumas as well. If you are not in therapy already, I strongly encourage you to get some support for your anxiety disorder. Complications from trauma will worsen if not addressed. There are very effective psychotherapeutic techniques such as hypnotherapy and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) as well as medications that can reduce the symptoms of anxiety.

-David



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