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Third try is a charm?
Jun 1, 2004

Hi Dr. Frascino,

I know you receive a blue zillion e-mails every day, so I've made my third attempt a bit easier with an easy "yes and no" format. Do a crazy girl a favor and hopefully put my mind at ease.

1. Could I begin experiencing ARS symptoms three days after a single potential exposure?

2. Is the rash associated with hiv infection obviously visible with bumps? (I just have an itching skin sensation around my collar bone area - nothing on my stomach.)

3. Is "grinding" with a man of unknown status considered really risky? (He did not ejaculate but I know preseminal fluid was present and that I was exposed to it both on and possibly in my vagina.)

4. Does an ELISA test at almost three weeks have any validity whatsoever? (It was negative.)

5. I haven't felt well for more than four weeks - my temperature hasn't gone above 99 and I haven't had a significant sore throat or any loose stools - but I just haven't felt right at all. If I have a strong immune system to begin with, could it be that ARS just isn't affecting me as severely? Do ARS symptoms last more than 4 weeks? (Oops, that's two questions.)

6. If my lymph nodes were swollen due to hiv infection, would they feel tender and painful? (I can't tell if mine are - I feel them in my neck, but they don't hurt.)

7. I developed a small bruise on my forearm that lasted a little over a week and I don't remember doing anything to get it. Is it true that bruising is a sign of hiv infection?

8. I know the person I was with has traveled all over the world. Should I be concerned about hiv-2?

9. I was also concerned about genital herpes when I developed a bump on the outer lip of my vagina. My doctor told me it was a pimple and it did go away. (I know, it's gross.) Does this symptom sound like something related to hiv infection?

10. I think about this all the time and it's affecting my work and personal life. It's so tiring to worry all the time. I feel guilty about what I did and am so afraid I will pay with my life. If a 30-day ELISA comes back negative, will that be enough?

Thank you so much for your time. I know you hear this a lot, but your work on this site obviously helps so many people through the sheer agony of waiting for test results. You are an exceptional person and I admire you immensely. I would like to send a WOO-HOO donation. Please help me. Thank you.

Jennifer

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Jennifer,

A blue zillion? . . . . Well, not every day. Some days only a light mauve billion, but others, a jungle-red gazillion. But who's counting, right?

I'll try to follow your "yes and no" format, but if you truly are a "crazy girl," putting your mind at ease may require more than my reply. OK, here we go.

1. No. (ARS symptoms generally take weeks, not days, to appear.)

2. Usually yes. (But to put your mind at ease, "itching skin" sensation around my collar one area" definitely doesn't qualify for ARS "rash.")

3. No. (Grinding is not a problem, but if you got preseminal fluid "in" your vagina, you must have been doing something more than just grinding.)

4. No, a negative ELISA at three weeks is not "valid." It takes three months, not three weeks, for a definitive ELISA result.

5. Since this was two questions, I should disqualify them from consideration for breaking the "yes and no" format rules, but I won't. 5a. No. (Strength of the immune system is not a factor here.) 5b. "yes and no." (ARS symptoms are extremely variable.)

6. No. (not necessarily. Sometimes they can be tender, however often times they are not.)

7. No. (What you describe is not suggestive of HIV ARS.)

8. "Yes and no." (Depends on whether he visited HIV-2 endemic areas.)

9. No. (It sounds like a pimple. Just like your doctor said.)

10. No. (Review my response to your question #4.)

Jennifer, from what I can infer from your many questions, I tend to doubt HIV is your problem; however, it does appear guilt, stress, and anxiety are taking their toll on your professional and personal lives. If you've become a "crazy girl," get help. Ask your doctor for a referral for some counseling. It may be a full three months before you have a definitive HIV result in your hands and be able to WOO-HOO with confidence.

I don't want you to go COO-KOO while waiting for your WOO-HOO.

Thanks for your willingness to make a donation to help those struggling to survive with HIV/AIDS. You've experienced what it's like to worry bout being HIV positive. Perhaps it will give you and others some insight into what it's like to live with this unwanted intruder.

Feel better, Jennifer. I'm quite confident all will turn out well for you.

Dr. Bob



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