How to Cope for 3 Months
Mar 8, 2004
I have performed oral sex on a perfect stranger at a bath house. This was my very first sexual encounter ever. He ejactulated in my mouth and I swallowed. At the time, I was in good oral health. Shortly after this incident, the reality of the risk I have taken dawned on me. I have read your forums and understand that 1) the risk was minimal -- possible, though not probably; 2) I must wait 3 months prior to testing.
I have noticed a pronouced hypochandria from readers/posters to this site. I too am starting notice swollen lymph nodes in my neck and often feel hot flashes (as in, an adrenaline rush each time the thought of what I've done and the risk involved crosses my mind.)
In the past week, I have become more and more distracted by the possiblity of infection and the odds I'm positive. I have, like many, been constantly analyzing my health and physical condition, noticing things from random acne here and there, to a hot flash, to having mildly midly swollen lymph nodes in my neck though no sore throught.
It has been 2 months since my encounter. It seems that reading your forums gives me some relief... by constantly reminding me of how low the risk is. Still, it also reinforces my fears. For now, I reassure myself that given the low risk involved, I should chill out. But how can I continue to cope? I feel like I'll never be able to deal with this fear for another 4 weeks. Is there any advice you have for me, and the many like me, who feel as if they are waiting for bad news?
Response from Dr. Frascino
Sorry to hear your first sexual encounter has been a source of such anxiety for you. I'm glad you are reading this site and finding some comfort by placing your degree of risk into perspective.
How to cope? I'll offer some suggestions:
1. Continue reading this site, including the extensive archives, to reinforce the scientific facts. Science can ultimately triumph over fear every time.
2. Since you realize your actual risk is extremely low and that your "symptoms" might be hypochondriacal due to irrational fears, you should consider getting some professional counseling to help you cope with these unwarranted and unhealthy anxieties.
3. Consider helping others less fortunate than you. Volunteer at an AIDS hospice, read to someone who's gone blind from CMV, deliver meals to those unable to cook for themselves, or take someone's pet for a walk when they are too ill to do so. If becoming physically involved is just not an option, consider making a donation to an AIDS-related charity to help battle the epidemic. These are ways to actually do something concrete to battle against the HIV/AIDS scourge that is presently affecting your life. Directing your energy and resources someplace other than yourself is also a fine way to rack up some excellent cosmic karma with the higher powers by demonstrating compassion for others.
4. Stop "waiting for bad news" and anticipate the more probably "good news." This is not false hope, but rather scientific statistical analysis of probability.
Good luck. Two months down, one to go. Use the time wisely. Considering your risk is so astronomically minimal, I'll save you a provisional spot in the X-Files (Ex-Worried Wells) and wait to hear to officially WOO-HOO in four weeks time, OK?
Also, spend some time on this and related sites, learning about safer sex and the risks of various activities. You should then decide what level of risk you are willing to accept in you personal behavior and stick to those decisions. It will prevent future unnecessary worry in the future and make sex a whole helluva lot more fun. Good luck.
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