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The Odds Are Against Me, Is Woo-Hoo Still Possible?
Jul 26, 2004

Dr. Bob, I wish I could claim to be one of the worried-well and had one of those "A hooker with a cold-sore fed me cheerios with a dirty spoon" type questions, but unfortunately my fear is a bit more rational. A few months ago, my partner of 6 years began to experience problems with his vision and became blind in one eye. The diagnosis was cmv retinitis caused by AIDS which was told to him in a rather matter-of-fact way by a stupid-ass, insensitive jerk of a Doctor who gave him the news over the phone. Previously, in 2003 my partner had oral thrush which went away without medical attention, but other than that he seemed perfectly healthy throughout the first 4-5 years of our relationship. Now, My boyfriend has fortunately responded very well to 2 months of I.V. cytovene treatments and is about to start HAART meds in a manner of days (which I pray work equally as well for him.) I still have problems dealing with the probability of how this could have happened. At the time we met, he had only 4 or 5 previous sexual partners and I had chosen to abstain until the "right guy" came along and had no previous sexual history to speak of. (Yes, I was a 29 year old virgin ..don't laugh.) I felt that I had no need to be concerned about his hiv status, The chance of him being infected from just a few previous experiences seemed insignificant in comparison to almost everyone I knew. Guess we learned that lesson the hard way. Anyway, So far, I have put off being tested myself due to: 1. Fear, Fear & more Fear 2. I have been so concerned with my partner's well-being that I'm afraid that a postive test result could bring out some anger in me that I really don't want to direct toward him and cause him any additional anxiety. He is already suffering enough. 3. He has stated that he doesn't know how he'll be able to live with himself knowing that he has infected me. Again more anxiety that I don't want to put upon him at this time. 4. Two weeks before his diagnosis, I lost my job due to a company closing, which has left me without health insurance. Logic tells me that even if I test postive, I can remain healthy longer and at least I can seek treatment before I develop any serious infections. Then I begin to worry about how I would pay for the treatments I'd need and who would be willing to insure me with a poz hiv test in my medical history!? 5. Did I mention fear?

After a year or so into our relationship, my partner and I fell into that "false sense of security" with each other and using protection didn't seem to be so important. Over the course of 6 years , we have had unprotected sex in every way you could imagine (Ok..maybe not every way YOU specifically can imagine..I don't know just how kinky your mind is, ha!) I already know oral sex carries a low risk..he has also used his cum as lube to masturbate me and as far as anal sex, 98% of the time I have been the top. I do not really enjoy being the receptive partner, but we have tried that just a few times, though I have never allowed him to ejaculate inside me during any of those attempts.

Since about 3 weeks after my boyfriend's diagnosis, I have been experiencing bloodshot eyes throughout the day and floaters in my vision (though honestly, I'm not really sure if it's an increase in floaters or I'm just obsessing about the one's I already had and used to be able to ignore.) I am rarely sick, and have had none of the other typical symptoms..no swollen glands, fevers, weight loss, rashes etc. Is it possible that I could already be experiencing hiv related vision problems without first having any other symptoms? So far, I'm just chalking this up as stress over my boyfriend's problems..I really want to be able to help my partner get through the next few weeks of beginnig his treatment and find new employment before I start worrying about getting myself tested, but I'm also worried that my current eye symptoms may be a sign that I don't really have enough time to have a choice in the matter. I guess I'm just really trying to cling to a shred of hope for the possibility that I could still be negative. I feel like the odds are against me on this. Is there even a remote chance I could still have a WOO-HOO? I really enjoy reading your comments. I am so happy to have a source of information on the internet that is also entertaining and written by a caring medical professional who actually seems to have a human personality.

Continued health and happiness.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

I'm sorry to hear about your boyfriend's recent diagnosis and complications. His response to the cytovene is indeed encouraging. I should also mention I've seen miraculous immunologic and physical recoveries with the combination of compassionate/competent advice of an HIV specialist coupled with HAART and a strong desire to live. Now if you add in the love and support of a partner, the regimen becomes even more potent.

What you are doing for your partner demonstrates the depth of your love and strength of your commitment. However, denying or delaying your own medical evaluation should not be linked to helping him. Yes, I do realize the severity of your fears and yes, those fears are warranted. That that risk is real as opposed to the "dirty spoon cheerios" or "my fruit loops might be coated with something other than sugar frosting" scenarios should encourage you to act sooner rather than procrastinate.

You've given some reasons for putting off testing. I'll counter those with some reasons not to wait:

1. Fear is best dealt with by action, not avoidance.

2. You are worried about causing your partner more anxiety . . . . What could be more anxiety-provoking for him than worrying whether you, too, are positive and not getting appropriate medical care?

3. If you have no job or healthcare coverage and are HIV positive, there are both state and federal assistance programs available to help.

4. There is indeed still a chance you are HIV negative!

WOO-HOO or not, I strongly encourage you to get tested now. You've seen the consequences of delaying treatment firsthand. Is anything worth that risk?

One way or the other, let's all get through this together, OK? Why not share this post with your lover? Use it as a point of discussion, and then go and get tested for both your sakes.

Someday, when we are all old and gray, we'll compare notes and see whose imagination had the kinkiest positions, OK?

Good luck. I'm here whenever you need me.

Dr. Bob



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