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Readers we need tougher questions for Dr. Bob

May 23, 2003

Dear Dr. Bob.: While I have enjoyed the forum and have often found it educational, of late your question selection seems to be slipping. I read it every day but most of what is posted these days is innane can-I-get-sex-from-a-doorknob drivel or messages of praise and thanks. The praise and thanks may be much deserved but it doesn't do alot to educate or reassure people who have been looking for some of both (education and reassurance).

Anyway I've asked versions this before but I'll try again. Is there is any possibility or any likelihood (have you personally seen it) that all of the following could be attributable to stress and anxiety about HIV: tingling legs and feet, burning skin spots and numb shins (2 weeks- 10 weeks) rash (week 9, ) very swollen and very tender axilia nodes (starting in week 8 and peaking in week 10) very swollen and very tender neck nodes so swollen that I had trouble turning my head (starting in week 9 and peaking in week 10), mild flu and head ache and general malaise off an on throughout. Note that the risk was vaginal sex with a sex worker with a condom i have reason to suspect was not intended for STD prevention but rather for oral sex only - sex toy variety.

And Bob, surely with the thousands of questions you have coming in you could find some that challenge you a bit more. It must get boring typing the same "oral sex is low risk" message everyday. Come on readers give Bob a hand with some good questions okay... and no, you can't catch hiv from someone who doesn't have it, from your dog, from rubbing your motorcycle helmet across a Burmese prostitues pink plastic sandals and a three month test IS conclusive.

Speaking of which today is exactly 3 months ... I'm going to go get tested (that is the easy part) , but I was really hoping for a response from you... especially one that would help me summon up the courage to actually get the results (that is the hard part).

Stay well Bob. You are an inspiration, but even so, as you might imagine I really hope that I don't join you and millions of Americans, on the positive side. On the other hand if I do I'm sure my appreciation for what you do and what you go have gone through will grow immensely. G'bye.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Sorry you havent found my recent responses educational or reassuring. How did you know about the guy who rubbed his motorcycle helmet across a Burmese prostitutes pink sandals? I didnt think I even posted that one.

So your question is that you specifically want to know if I have "personally seen tingling legs and feet, burning skin spots and numb shins (2 wks 10 wks), rash (wk 9), very swollen and very tender axillary nodes (wk 8 wk 10), very swollen and very tender neck nodes so swollen that you had trouble turning your head (wk 9 wk 10), mild flu, headache, and general malaise off and on" attributable to stress and anxiety about HIV following an episode of protected vaginal sex, where you "suspect" the condom was not intended for STD prevention. OK, now theres a question that Im sure has been on everyones mind for quite some time. And, why would you consider this question more challenging than the thousands of other questions pouring in? Perhaps because it happens to be you?

To answer your question of course not! The numb shins dont usually show up until week 13. Everyone knows that, dont they? Seriously, the vast majority of your symptoms can indeed be "attributable" to stress and anxiety, as well as a wide variety of other non-HIV causes.

Youve decided to be tested. It doesnt take courage to get the results, but rather common sense! OK, so your risk isnt a benign doorknob, but I certainly wouldnt call it significant either.

I hope you find this response educational, or at least reassuring, because Im sure there are lots of folks out there reading this who might find this response boring, because the question was not really very challenging.

Good luck on your 3-month test!

Dr. Bob



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