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Had Safe Sex, But Still Nervous
Sep 28, 2003

Dr. Franscino,

I am a 21-year-old, inexperienced (sexually) young man. I have always had high morale and standards, meaning, I don't sleep around "just because." My boyfriend and I broke up a few months ago and I was devastated. I swore up and down that I would not even look at a man for quite some time. Well, my boyfriend and I have remained friends, and after the storm passed, I realized that I am a human being with raging hormones. I met a guy through a mutual friend and strangely, had sex that evening. I am not that type of person...meeting someone for the first time and then having sex...waaaay out of line for me. However, what's done is done and I cannot change the past.

I did wear a condom when I penetrated him. I never "got off" in the condom since I felt uncomfortable doing it. I withdrew, took off the condom, and "relieved" myself. The night it happened, I felt safe. I never performed oral sex on him, nor did he penetrate me (anally.) We did not have any lube, but I still wore the condom. I realize that I was at risk with NO lube, since the chances of the condom breaking were much higher. However, it did not (I would know if a condom broke, right?) Therefore, I assume that with all said and done, I'm safe. He and I have also masturbated together, but again, to my knowledge, I have never come into contact with his "fluids."

I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and a slight anxiety problem. It wasn't until a week or two ago that I suddenly freaked and started worrying. I realize that safe sex greatly reduces the risk for HIV transmission; yet, with HIV on the rise (especially in the gay community), I sometimes feel as if it is inevitable that I will catch the virus one day. Ignorance it may be, but thats simply what I fear. It has been five weeks with no symptoms. I have consulted a friend on the issue (who is HIV positive) and claims I am okay and I have also done extensive research. Can you PLEASE reply and give me some peace of mind. Granted, I could always get tested, but I understand that my encounter was considered safe. Many of my friends have protected anal sex and dont worry, so why should I freak out each time?

Once I withdrew the condom, is it possible to contract HIV if you accidentally touch the condom and then touch your penis (while masturbating?) Also, from the research Ive done on the issue, most doctors are claiming that between the first and fourth week of exposure to the virus is when the flu-like symptoms appear. Im now in week fiveam I out of the woods yet? The friend who I sought for advice swears up and down that Im fine and told me I would have seen symptoms by now.

Thanks for your help.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Would you know if the condom broke? Yes. It's like your head sticking out of your turtleneck sweater; except the sweater would be made of latex and we'd be talking about your "other" head!

You feel "it is inevitable that you will catch the virus one day?" Why? That's your OCD, not reality. Fears are not realities.

Can I give you "peace of mind?" Well, I can tell you that you did not contract HIV if the condom stayed intact. But for "peace of mind," I think you'll need to attend to your OCD and irrational fears.

"Why should you freak out each time?" Well, that's the point -- you shouldn't. Again, HIV isn't the problem. Irrational fears are. That's why you should seek counseling to help with that problem.

The "what if's" and "is it possible's" in your question all get the same answer: No, absolutely not. Stop worrying about a condition you do not have and begin focusing on the condition that is the cause of your discomfort anxiety!

Feel better. HIV is not your problem.

Dr. Bob



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