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A favor to ask
Feb 8, 2004

Dr. Bob,

I would like to ask you a tremendous favor. I am in your general area, the California Bay Area, and would sincerely appreciate the opportunity to talk with you either face-to-face or maybe telephone or email. You probably get these types of requests all the time, so I completely understand if you can't do this. My status is unknown as I had unprotected insertive sex with a woman I met on a night out. I am married and have a child, and basically have absolutely no one to talk to. I am not looking for someone's shoulders to cry on, but I do need some very specific information that I am unable to find online. I am the one who posed the question about the symptoms of stress over contracting HIV vs. the symptoms of actually having HIV. Seeing as how I am not the world's strongest wordsmith, I don't think I am getting m point across adequately - basically, it has been 2.5 weeks since the contact, and I am not exhibiting any symptoms that I would call specific to either camp. My back and neck are stiff as hell, my legs and hands sometimes get numb and my muscles tend to cramp if I don't move around for extended periods of time. I don't know if this is due to the abject stress or HIV. I also have a canker sore, which as I said before, I have been getting them since I was a kid, but the paranoia has convinced me it is HIV and not stress related.

Well, I realize that you have more imprtant things to contend with than this, so I will leave the ball in your court...if you get a chance, email me at: xxxxxxxxxxx

Thanks Robert,

B

Hi,

I have read the various posts, but so far have not run across this specific question. Dr. Bob, I was wondering if you could please answer this question for me. I am trying to find out the similarities between the symptoms of acute, and I do mean extremely acute, symptoms of stress related to possible HIV exposure, and actual HIV exposure. Three weeks ago I had insertive heterosexual unprotected sex with a woman whose HIV status I am unsure of I met at a bar while under the influence...Ever heard this story before? At any rate, I am experiencing the follwoing symptoms that I identify with both stress and HIV infection - back pain, a canker sore (which I have had on and off basically since I was six - so it that is nothing new, but hihgly coincidental), muscle fatigue, I sleep alot. I had some numbness in my legs and hands when I stay at rest for any real length of time. Perhaps the guilt from cheating on my wife, and the paranoia I have that I may have robbed my infant daughter of a father have convinced me that I am positive - I don't know. What I do know is that I cannot focus on work, I cannot go without three minutes without scaring the hell out of myself that I am indeed positive. I look at my wife and child and basically about start crying. The stress is doubled in that I really can't find anything definitive out for another couple of months. Anyway, any dilleneation between the symptoms of acute stress and the symptoms of HIV infection would be incredibly appreciated. You are indeed a wonderful man, Dr. Bob, and I appreciate your reply.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello B,

Yes, your point is coming through loud and clear, and actually, I agree with your conclusion: ". . . the paranoia has convinced you it is HIV . . . ." Guilt, anxiety, and stress have all colluded to cloud your judgment. Your "symptoms" are not at all suggestive of HIV ARS. Yes, unprotected sex does place you at some degree of risk for STD's, including HIV, but the risk is probably a lot lower than you would imagine.

You are also correct that I cannot and do not take these types of calls, as it would be a physical impossibility. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, and fell you need the services of an HIV specialist, you can choose from the list of certified HIV specialists listed at the American Academy of HIV Medicine's website, www.aahivm.org, which includes the Frascino Medical Group. Alternatively, you might consider getting some counseling to help you cope with your anxiety and guilt during the window period. If you do decide to get HIV testing, I'd suggest you wait for three months after the potential exposure to assure your result is definitive. We'll all be wishing you luck!

Dr. Bob



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