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sharing personal experience/question about donations
May 26, 2004

Dear Dr.

... after writing this, and upon posting it, I noticed I'm not the only person with a similar story.

I'm writing to share a personal experience and ask about donations to your foundation. Im a 26 year-old male and I recently discovered what it feels like to be scared for my life. Eight months ago, I engaged in a one-night stand with a cute little 18-year old who I thought was relatively harmless. I have always used protection with people I didnt know in the past, but on that night I was so drunk that I didnt pay much attention to wrapping it.

The next day I felt guilty and a little worried about the possible consequences, but I didn't come down with anything in the weeks that followed so I assumed I was OK. Then, eight months later, I was hanging out at a bachelor party when a close friend said he heard through the grapevine that this girl had many sex partners and had been treated for STDs in the past. The worst part he said, was that there was a rumor she had HIV.

I quickly spiraled from a happy party animal to a worried mess. Thoughts HIV presented themselves to the front of my mind and didn't go away. I poured over information on the internet (where I found your site), and like your other readers I recounted that night and obsessed over my level of risk. I also wondered how my life would change, immediately and in the long run, if I was HIV positive. I had a lot to lose.

I was terrified, fear dominated my mind and anxiety wreaked havoc on my body. I wanted to know right away, but I had to wait through a long weekend before going in to get tested. Then, I had to wait for the results to come back. The whole time I felt like my life was in limbo. I couldn't function but I could really relate to the experience of some of your other readers.

Fortunately I only had to wait six days for my results from the time I heard the bad news. But it felt much longer than that. Three months would have driven me crazy. In the end I tested negative and the whole experience has converted me into a born-again safe sex fundamentalist. Now, putting on a condom is the greatest feeling in the world.

I would like to make a contribution to your foundation and I am wondering if it could be used toward quick testing. Whether this means funding quick testing for social programs, R&D or whatever, I wish everybody who got drunk and made a mistake like I did could at least find out how much that mistake is going to cost them as soon as possible.

S.H.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello SH,

Thanks for taking the time to write in and share your story of becoming a born-again safe sex fundamentalist! We like you much better as a happy party animal than as a worried mess. I'm also delighted you have decided to comply with the party animal "dress code!"

Thank you for your donation. Yes, if you include a note with your donation (or message on the Foundation's website, if you make the donation with a credit card), we'll earmark your contribution for a rapid testing program. We and other organizations are trying to make this technology (results available within 20 minutes) more widely available. You would be amazed how many folks who come to testing centers to get an HIV test never come back to get their results days to weeks later, because of fear. If the results could be made available within 20 minutes, we can avoid a lot of unnecessary worry!

SH, on behalf of all those folks who won't have to spend days or weeks in "worry-limbo-hell" as a result of your generous donation, please accept my heartfelt thanks.

Stay well.

Dr. Bob



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