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Anxiety about unprotected sex with man of unknown status
Nov 18, 2011

Good morning,

I am a heterosexual female. I suffer with anxiety, especially when it comes to the fear of contracting HIV. My ex fiance was HIV positive, but I was lucky enough not to contract the virus (I was tested numerous times; immediately after finding out he was positive, at three months and then again at 6 months). There isn't a day that goes by that I don't experience the fear of testing positive.

Irresponsibly, I had vaginal sex with a man of unknown status seven times (I punish myself for this everyday). After we broke up, I went to a sexual health nurse, who in her words said "In Australia we are not in a pandemic" and "It would be over cautious for you to be tested for HIV." So she had convinced me at this time that I didn't need to be tested.

About two weeks ago, I got drunk with another man I'd just met, and again I did not know his status (he was the brother of a girl I use to work with). We did go to the bedroom and he did put a condom on and thrusted into me about 4-5 times, and then stopped. He watched me masturbate and then I blacked out. The next thing I remember, we were making out, still on his bed and he showed me that he had taken the condom off. The next thing I remember after that is putting my underwear and pants back on. I don't know if we had sex or not! I am worried about this... I would appreciate your take on this event, what do you think? If we were to have sex, would I be at serious risk?

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Thanks for writing. Given the circumstances you describe I would most certainly get an HIV test. I frankly think it's absurd not to get a test in this situation. You also need to take a look at your drinking. When substance use leads repeatedly to risky sexual behavior or to blackouts, there is a problem that needs to be addressed. You can find lists of support groups at these sites: Alcoholics Anonymous Australia or SMART Recovery Australia. Finally, in terms of anxiety, reducing your risk should help considerable. There are also many behavioral techniques that work well including breathing exercises, relaxation, meditation, and social support.

Take care,

-David



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