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RAPED, DEPRESSED, SCARED and CONFUSED
Dec 18, 2004

Dr. Bob,

I was told about your website by my psychiatrist. It has been helpful to know that others go through the same thing I have been experiencing while waiting for test results.

I was raped on September 23, 2004 in the parking garage of the corporate complex where I work. My rapist has not been caught. I went to the emergency room within 24 hours of the attack. A rape kit was conducted (only to find out it takes a long time to process - mine is still waiting to be processed after almost 3 months). I was given preventative treatment for STDs (both orally and by injection), however I wasn't made aware of PEP for HIV and I didn't know about it at the time to ask and therefore did not take anything to prevent possible transmission. I am seeing a psychiatrist and I am currently taking Zoloft and Ativan to try to get me through the days. I am scared to death that I have contracted HIV. I have every symptom. My family Dr. could not deal with my whole ordeal and sent me to an Infectious Disease Dr. who specializes in HIV. This is where the confusion begins..After hearing what happened to me, he did a HIV RNA test and ELISA test at 25 days. Both were negative, however my symptoms have persisted. He said if I was experiencing ARS, my viral load would have indicated it. However, he did another ELISA test (which he thinks will be negative) on Dec. 9th to put my mind at ease. I am waiting for the results and I am convinced that the monster who violated me has infected me with HIV. The ID Dr. said seroconversion would happen by 6 weeks and if this test is negative then I can move on with my life since the test was done at 11 weeks. But, I keep hearing 3 months or 90 days as definitive time frames for negative results. I am engaged to be married and while I cannot even think of being intimate at the moment, I am afraid the results won't be accurate and I will infect my fiance. He has been wonderful and supportive and wants to help me move on. I just can't stop thinking that all my symptoms are HIV. I am depressed and scared and just don't know how to get through this. On top of all this, I have an oral lesion that has to be biopsied. No one knows what it is and it came out one week after the rape.

Any insight is appreciated. I have read through your archives and while I know what you will say (I think), it would be good for me to hear it written to me.

Thank you!

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

I'm sorry to hear about your terrifying ordeal. I'm surprised the emergency room physician did not discuss HIV PEP. That was an oversight on his/her part, in my opinion.

I am glad you are under the care of a psychiatrist to help guide you through this difficult period in your life. From reading the archives of this forum, I hope you have learned that symptoms, no matter what they may be, are notoriously unreliable in predicting actual HIV infection. I agree with your infectious disease HIV specialist that if your HIV ELISA tests remain negative out to 11 weeks and you have a 25-day negative HIV RNA, the chances you have contracted the virus are almost nonexistent. True, the guidelines do indicate that antibody tests taken before three months are not definitive. Consequently, if it will help allay your fears, why not retest at the three-month mark? This should be fast approaching?

Regarding your fears of infecting your fiancé, latex condoms can be used for prevention until your final test results are back and you enter into your monogamous relationship.

Please know that things really will get better. Irrational fears can be conquered. I hope "hearing it written from me" helps.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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