Facing Possible HIV
Sep 11, 2004
Hello Dr. Bob,
Last week, after experiencing what appeared to be every symptom in the book ranging from tonsillitis to swollen lymph nodes, fever, night sweats, etc., I panicked, of course, and then found your forum filled with questions that could be my own: do I have symptoms of early HIV? Im not writing for an answer; instead, Im writing because I felt the pangs of fear through so many questions that I had an epiphany.
First, if our greatest fear is to be like someone else who is bravely facing HIV and/or AIDS, then how self-centered and disrespectful is it to them to fear or judge what they face every day; second, if we are facing possible HIV, then what, if anything, led us to this point? Is there something we did, didnt do, or can learn to do differently if we get the chance? I guess what Im saying is that at this stage, whether we have HIV or not is no longer in our hands, but how we face it, learn from it and share with others is completely within our control.
Im scared, I wont lie, but I refuse to become consumed by fear. Today I walked into a center for gay and bisexual men, faced the deep rooted phobia of my own sexuality and spent 1-1/2 hours questioning everything I could about safer sex. Why did I do this? Because it occurred to me that there are many things over which I DO have immediate control: the protection of my future, the protection of others given that I suspect I may have early HIV, and the lifestyle choices I can make now that can improve my chances regardless of my HIV status.
My own test results wont be in for two weeks and even then, it could take 3 months to know for sure. Regardless of my own results, I hope to use this opportunity to better understand PEOPLE living with HIV-- not just HIV--and to better educate myself on what I thought was an already a good understanding of HIV and STDs.it can always be better.
I just want to thank you for your forum because through it I was able to recognize that the key to getting past my own fear was to take action and face it head on. Of course I hope that I will remain negative, but if not, I hope to deal with it as gracefully and compassionately as you have done. I feel for you when I read some of the questions from other fear mongers like myself who forget that you are dealing with this issue yourself.
Response from Dr. Frascino
Thank you for taking the time to write in to share your thoughts. I absolutely agree the key to getting past one's fears is to take action and face it head on, just as you are doing. It seems you've learned many important lessons from this experience. I'm confident if you remain on your current path, you will indeed meet any future challenge with both compassion and grace. Remember, I'm here if you need me.
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