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Worried Sick(WW)
Mar 9, 2003

IS THIS WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME? I HAD WHAT WOULD BE CALLED LOW RISK EXPOSURE(VAGINAL FLUID IN A FINGER CUT FROM VAGINAL FINGERING)AND THEN I GOT SO SEVERELY SICK THAT I HAD TO GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM AND THE DOCTOR SAID THAT IT APPEARED TO BE ARS SYMPTOMS. TO DATE(14 MONTHS LATER)I CONTINUE TO HAVE LIGHTER SYMPTOMS AND CONTINUE TO FEEL SICK OFF AND ON. I AM NOT EXAGGERATING WHEN I SAY I WAS SO INTIALLY SICK I FELT LIKE I WAS LITERALLY DYING. I HAVE CONTINUALLY TESTED NEGATIVE TO HIV. THERE IS NOW A YAHOO BOARD THAT IS ENTITLED "ARS SYMPTOMS-UNKNOWNVIRUS-HIV?" THERE ARE APPROXIMATELY A DOZEN PEOPLE ON THIS BOARD LIKE ME AND WE CANNOT FIGURE THIS OUT. IT IS NOT IN OUR HEAD'S AND WE WOULD LIKE SOME PROFESSIONAL ADVICE FROM YOU EXPERTS. PLEASE RESPOND, ALOT OF PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR YOUR RESPONSE. THANKS!

Subject: Mystery Virus Similar to HIV Is Discounted Date: Published: 2/11/93 (90 lines) Source: Wall Street Journal. Copyright Dow Jones & Co. Inc.

Health: Mystery Virus Similar to HIV Is Discounted ---- By Marilyn Chase Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

Five reports in the New England Journal of Medicine today contradict reports from last summer that a possible mystery virus causing an AIDS-like syndrome poses a new threat to public health. After combing through some 230,000 cases in CDC's AIDS files, researchers concluded that incidents where an unknown virus was suspected -- in people suffering from low counts of infection-fighting white blood cells -- aren't linked by any common cause. In short, the reports argue, there is no mystery virus. The reports, based on studies by the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and several research centers, hark back to the International Conference on AIDS in Amsterdam in July. On the eve of the conference, Newsweek magazine published a cover story describing cases of an AIDS-like syndrome that occurred without any trace of human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. Strongly suggesting that a stealthy new microbe threatened the nation's blood supply, Cornell University researcher Jeffrey Laurence stepped into the media spotlight, even warning the public to carry their own blood while traveling. The new studies conclude that the 101 known cases of apparent immune suppression without HIV are rare, sporadic and unrelated, stemming from a variety of health problems. Probably in existence for decades, this illness isn't new or transmissible, the reports conclude. In such cases, neither the patients' sexual partners nor household members were affected. In addition, people who donated blood to the patients as well as individuals who received transfusions from the patients were not found to harbor any illness. "At this point we can reasonably conclude that it is a rare syndrome; is not new; is not caused by HIV ...and does not appear to be caused by a transmissible agent," wrote Anthony S. Fauci, head of the NIH's Office of AIDS, in an editorial accompanying the research reports. Further, Dr. Fauci chastised the press for fomenting "near hysteria" through exaggerated reports last summer. The spotlight last summer turned a slender and preliminary report into the main event in Amsterdam, eclipsing major reports on the relentless spread of AIDS around the world, including a deadly new strain racing through military recruits in Thailand. Press accounts accused public health officials of ignoring a large public health threat posed by the mystery virus. In the wake of the outcry, global health authorities asked doctors to report any odd immune disorders. And in following months, scientists were summoned to meetings in Atlanta and Geneva amid an atmosphere of crisis. The CDC reviewed 230,000 cases reported in its AIDS surveillance system, and investigated 47 people who fit the description of "non-HIV immune deficiency." Others conducted minute lab analyses of certain HIV-free patients. The resulting reports are featured in today's issue of the New England Journal. Scott Holmberg of the CDC, chief author of one CDC report in the journal, found that the 47 people fitting the description suffered from a rare and diverse collection of disorders -- with no common thread to unite them. "This puts big limits on the amount of concern the public and scientific community should have," Dr. Holmberg said in a telephone interview. "It is not an epidemic. It is not new. It is not AIDS. " Thomas Spira, in a separate CDC report, examined five patients closely and found they harbored no virus and no trace of a key viral enzyme known as "reverse transcriptase." He agreed with Dr. Holmberg that the new cases differed from AIDS in several key respects, adding, "Nothing ...suggests that a transmissible agent causes this condition." Virologist David Ho of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York, reported in a third journal paper that he, too, finds the cases dissimilar from AIDS and has yet to see proof of a new virus. However, he leaves open the question of whether one might be found. Dr. Ho couldn't be reached for elaboration. Though still suspicious that a new virus exists, Cornell's Dr. Laurence conceded in an interview that the New England Journal reports are "perfectly reasonable," adding that his work hasn't progressed much since last summer. "I have one patient with viral enzyme and that could be from a million different sources," he said. Further, he seemed to back off from earlier assertions of a new public health threat, saying he now is looking at a tiny subgroup of immune disorders. "We're talking about very small numbers here," he said.

[This article is made available here by Dow Jones Co. for the personal and non-commercial use of callers to this bbs, in the hope that it will be of some help to those who are suffering from the disease and others who are seeking to help them.]

Response from Dr. Frascino

Dear Worried Sick,

You got "vaginal fluid in a finger cut from vaginal fingering???" Wow, most vaginas don't contain sharp edges. How did you get a "finger cut from vaginal fingering?"

OK "Worried," calm down. I believe that you had something that caused you to go to the emergency room - most likely, a bad flu (similar to ARS symptoms). What is so unfortunate is that at the ER, you apparently were evaluated by a total idiot who scared the pants off (or maybe back on) you. Emergency room physicians are not HIV specialists, but he/she should have realized your risk of contracting HIV was extremely, extremely low, and that you almost certainly did NOT have HIV. This was proven to be true by you, because you "continually tested negative." I don't even want to ask how many tests you've taken!!!

So now you feel sick "off and on," and you've found a Yahoo board with "approximately a dozen" folks who have had a similar experience to yours. I assume they too felt sick, worried about HIV, and for some reason, just can't imagine why they continually test HIV-negative. Right? So then you find a report that's a decade old (note the Wall Street Journal article was published in 1993) that mentions a "possible mystery virus" and you freak-out all over again! Did you and the other folks on the Yahoo board take the time to carefully read Marilyn Chase's article? It very clearly states that there is NO mystery virus. I was in Amsterdam 10 years ago when all this brouhaha was going on. I totally agree with Tony Fauci and all the other doctors quoted in the article. What you and your chat buddies have are rare, sporadic, and unrelated conditions, most likely stemming from a variety of problems. Please note you could not have contracted this "condition" from the sharp-toothed vagina, because the "condition" is NOT CONTAGIOUS. Read the article very carefully, and hopefully you'll realize that this very old, old news story was blown way out of proportion.

So what do you have? Certainly not HIV. Certainly not a contagious illness from your sexual escapades. Have your general medical doctor check you over. If he gives you the all clear medically, please, please, please consider some counseling. Yes, you are "sick," worried sick to be exact (as the title of your question suggests). I think you need to concentrate on the "worried" part of your illness. You can get better if you appropriately address your irrational fears of a non-existent illness. Do your chat buddies a favor and pass this information on to them as well.

I hope you all get "well" soon.

Dr. Bob



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