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Psychological trauma..
Oct 26, 2004

Heya Dr Bob.

I've come to your site and this foram as a moth is drawn to flame for exactly the same reasons as everyone else. Fear of having contracted HIV.

But this is why I wanted to ask about actually, Fear. Why is it that otherwise rational individuals that face down various risks such as cancer scares and traffic accidents without batting an eyelid suddenly turn into mental wrecks when faced with an HIV test when the "risk" rates about the same as Bush supporting the gay pride march?

I'm in this boat with everyone else and can't understand why the wheels are falling off my mental wagon.

I have taken a routine HIV test for insurance purposes and all of a sudden an incident that I had forgotten about as being no risk has suddenly rendered me incapable of doing anything..

Briefly, a known HIV positive women, who was quite ill with vomiting etc made a clumsy "come on" attempt and succesfully inserted her tongue into my mouth, big deal I thought.. HIV isn't transmitted like that..

BUT, when faced with the test.. all the "what ifs" start to come into play.. what if she had blood in her mouth after vomiting? what if her gums were bleeding from HIV related conditions? OH NO, I've got GINIVITIS!!... O h s h i t... worst fears realized!!

Bob, I even thought how to let my new partner know I had possibly infected her with HIV.. and that feels bloody awful.

Recently I pulled myself together knowing that if the odds really went against me and I have HIV, then there's little that worry can do about it.. but I wanted to ask you as someone that must understand on a personal level and someone that is an expert in HIV. (other than a bit of reassurance that my own risk is lowwww..)

Why are we all so scared? Is it normal to be as frightened as we all seem to be? I've heard OCD is a "possible cause" of HIV "paranoia" Really???

Could I have that?

I've heard you recommend counselling quite often.. for HIV fear or possible mental illness? when does one become the other?!

Does my risk really warrant such worry or am I possibly going nuts?

Thanks Bob..

Dazed and Confused!

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Dazed and Confused,

An explanation of why people have irrational fears is beyond the scope of this forum. Whole books have been written on the subject. Suffice it to say the condition exists and certainly isn't limited to HIV. Some folks are scared sh*tless of spiders or snakes or the thought of Bush/Cheney actually being elected, despite their abysmal performance over the past four years. Oops, OK that last one doesn't qualify. It's not irrational. In fact, it's quite real! So at any rate, if someone has irrational fears, counseling can be very effective in helping to overcome these totally unwarranted and often incapacitating anxieties. "OCD" and "paranoia" are specific medical terms and may or may not be involved in someone who is experiencing irrational fears.

Does your risk warrant worry? No, absolutely not. Does your degree of needless panic warrant counseling? Yes, I do believe it would help relieve your dazed confusion.

Feel better. Remember HIV is not your problem.

Dr. Bob



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