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Don't let this happen to you
Jul 19, 1999

I am sure that you have many of these cases and you are pretty tired of hearing from me but I hope that every little experience helps. Everyone and their uncle except me believed that i did not any chance of being infected. Put it this way, my doctor said "I had a chance of a snowball in hell". I relate my experience to that of the great Howard Hughs. Remember when he went almost insane with fear when he was on top of the world and he thought the only thing that could bring him down was germs. I thought that was so funny until it happened to me. I was on top of the world. I had a beautiful girlfriend who I am going to marry, good health, a ever growing education and the most promising future. It was not until I did something that made me feel guilty that triggerd my fear that the only thing that I believed could stop me had actually happend, that I got HIV. I started having panic attacks whose physical symptoms (headaches, neck pains, loss of appietite, depress attitude, flaky skin, constipation, etc.). I lost all track of reality and constantly associated all these with Acute Viral Syndrome. I did the very thing that all HIV experts told me not to do, don't diagnose yourself and convince yourself you have HIV out of fear or guilt. I felt so guilty of what I did (going to a strip bar and getting a lap dance) that I feared that I lose the most important person in my life and the future that I dreamed so much about, getting married and becoming a father. The only thing that kept me from becoming isolated from everyone like so many in my shoes have done was by nurturing the hope. The hope that I was wrong, that everyone else was right, that what I am experiencing is fear, guilt and anxiety rather than disease and symptoms. I actually went back to the bar with the intent of looking at where it happend and making sure that couldn't have happend. I looked for cameras on the ceiling so every action could be monitored, which there was THANK GOD. I even talked to the very same stripper and she was more understanding than I ever could imagined. It turns out she has a family of her own and is just working there because she is in school like me!!! I really felt embarrased and stupid. It has been one month now since I THOUGHT i was exposed and I know will get better with time. Maybe in a couple of more months, I will get tested for peace of mind, what do you think DR? Never before could I have imagined how powerful the mind is over the body until now. But I would like to add something I also learned. Sometimes, we really do not fully appriciate what we have until something happens and you don't have it anymore. Even though I fully believe that I do not have HIV, I realized all the things I take for granted and the people who love me and who were there for me to get through this mental episode. It might have been a setback and would have been better off not have happening, but since it did, you use it, embrace it, learn from it, and move on. Sometimes a little fear is good for everyone. But I must say, do not take it too far like I did when you don't have to, I did, and for about one month, I have been having nightmares, panic attacks, and could not look into my girlfriend's eyes and not see my hedious reflection. Thank you for listening and always being there Dr. And to all you in my situation, learn from this please.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

This speaks for itself. Michael Shernoff, MSW



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