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Crohns Disease and HIV Infection

May 18, 2003

Dear Dr Robert,

I am married in a 100 monogamous relationship, with a 2 yr old son. We both got tested for HIV before getting married in 1997, and waited for window period.

Just recently I have been experiencing some odd things including overall bodily itching, presentation of a couple of pinprick spots on my hand, red rash on the nose diagnosed by GP as dermatitis. I looked up these things on the internet and all were potential symptoms of HIV and started getting worried because that's my nature.

Then recently, after more than 4 months of not having had sex with my wife we had intercourse late on a Thursday night and then at breakfast Saturday morning she is nauseous and vomiting.

I instantly assumed I had given her HIV. This was something I worried about a lot when single.

I have now noticed a whitish lesion on the hard palate of my mouth, which I am absolutely white with terror about, because I know that KS presents on the palate in HIV infection. Oddly, when I looked at the roof of my mouth with a mirror earlier on in the afternoon for a different reason there was nothing there.

I have had Crohns since 1995 and have regular colonoscopies.

Could I have HIV? Could I have contracted it through a colonoscopy? I can't think of any other explanation. I am trembling as I write this email, and would be very grateful for a response.

What effect would HIV have on a person with pre-existing Crohns?

Thank you

White with fear.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello White With Fear,

You do not have HIV! Lets get that out of the way first. No, you cannot get HIV via a properly performed colonoscopy. Pre-existing Crohns Disease would not affect your HIV tests. As for an interaction between Crohns Disease and HIV, thats not even under consideration. Why? Because as I mentioned above, you dont have HIV!

So what do you have besides Crohns Disease? Well, its what I like to call "HIV cyberchondria." Thats a condition where an anxious person looks things up on the Internet and then concludes they are related to HIV. Now consider this: "bodily itching" can be related to lots of thinks. For instance, you could be lying naked on red satin sheets with your entire body being tickled by fuzzy tails of 20 Playboy Centerfold Bunnies. That too can cause "bodily itching," but chances are thats not the real cause, right? Of course, Im right. Those Playboy Bunnies are much too busy with Hugh Heffner to be tickling your fancy! Pinprick spots? Disappearing spots on your hard palate? Same story. Its not HIV. Your wife? Listen pal, if your wife gets sick to her stomach and barfs after having sex with you, you may have a problem, but its not HIV. And why didnt you have sex with her for 4 months? Isnt that grounds for divorce?

Look, you clearly state you worried a lot about HIV when you were single. Guess what? That same worry is back. And its completely unjustified. Contact your doctor. Ask for a referral to a therapist or psychiatrist. Bring this e-mail with you to the visit. Your irrational fears appear to be long-standing and should be treated. Anxiety and stress can cause your Crohns Disease to flare, so get the help you need very soon.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

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