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Impact of stress.

Sep 23, 1999

Dear Mr. Shernoff,

I have tested negative at 1,2,3,6 (180 days) months on the HIV 1/2 antibody test. I have also done at 4.5 months WBs and one HIV 1 PCR test (all negative).

Even taking all this into consideration I continue to experience some unpleasant conditions (low CD4 level, fatigue).

I still do not give up hope that I have not ceased to be a reasonable person. Therefore, although I understand that I require some mental health counceling, I want to rule out any physical aspects so that I could concentrate on the mental aspects.

My question is: 1/ is it possible that severe stress (kept inside as no-one except for the two doctors who are professionally obliged to listen to me is aware of what is going on with me) can cause the immune system to lose its former integrity which can subsequently result in a CD4 reduction? are there any studies, surveys, etc. (I want to hear some support to my doctor's statement that stress can damage the immune system)?; 2/ Can a very severe and lengthy (6 months) stress condition cause fatigue? My symptoms are rather comical: I get tired rather mentally than physically, e.g. I have dificulties trying to concentrate but it is not exactly like an anxiety disorder, it is something between an anxiety disorder and a pre-flu condition although there are no body aches. However my mental tiredness afects later my physical abilities as well (feeling sleepy, worn out, etc.).

I would be most grateful if you could please advise.

Thank you and kind regards, Alex

Response from Mr. Shernoff

Dear Alex, There is very new field of mental health called psychoneuroimmunology which has scientifically studied the impact of stress on our bodies immune system. There are now multiple scientific studies that confirm that prolonged stress can and often does result in a reduction in our CD4+ cells, fatigue and a variety of other physical symptoms. Therefore you have every reason to believe what your doctor has told you.

I hope that you continue to test negative. Best of luck. Michael Shernoff, MSW

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