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What are the odds?
Apr 26, 1999

I had protected sex(condom) with a prostitute over 7 years ago. I have been married for 5 years now and have a daughter and one on the way.(no extramarital sex) Every time I get sick or depressed, I assume that I have HIV. My wife was tested 4 months ago by her OBGYN when we found out she was pregnant again. She was negative. I am extremely nervous about being tested. There is so much at stake if I have it. I don't think I could handle it. However, I'm going to do it soon. Please give me your honest professional opinion concerning my odds for having HIV.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

I think that you are so guilty about having had sex outside your marriage that it is manifesting itself through your anxiety about having become infected from an experience that poses virtually no risk. You say that whenever you become sick or depressed you immediately worry that this one experience from over 7 years ago could have given you HIV. In my clinical experience most people who torment themseves about worrying if they have HIV when there is almost no possibility of having gotten infected, do so in reaction to some very profound sexual guilt. The fact that you wife is pregant shows that you and she have been having unprotected sex, The fact that she is negative is almost a total guarantee that you are also HIV negative.

How often do you become depressed? Is this a regular part of your life experience? If it is, then I strongly suggest that you ask your physician for a referral to a good mental health profesional to have a consultation. Have you ever considered that a brief course of psychotherapy might be beneficial to you in terms of helping you overcome your depression and anxiety? With a new child on the way, this is an excellent time to get this situation addressed since having another child will only increase your stress levels, and your wife and children really deserve to have you as emotionally, psychologically and physically available as possible. Michael Shernoff, MSW



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