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Concern From Australia
Dec 22, 2004

GDay Dr Bob,

Firstly greetings from Australia, you know you are living in a truly global world when you can email a Doctor on the other side of the world for advice.

So here is my story rather. I'm a heterosexual Australian male of 25 with a fairly active sex life. In the past I have always used protection, but it was almost 3 weeks to the day when I was at a Christmas party (we party for whatever reason in Australia, a month out from Christmas wont stop a good Christmas party) and I ended up sleeping with this older lady, she was 30, without protection. I have read almost everything on the internet regarding HIV/AIDS and I am so concerned that I have contracted HIV. I didnt know the girl so Im thinking if she had sex with me without protection then she has done it with others. I was exposed long enough ago to start showing symptoms. I have swollen glands in my neck, my left underarm has just started hurting today but no swelling as yet and I am constantly tired. I am unfortunate enough to suffer from anxiety that comes and goes and I am sure this has exacerbated things greatly but still I am concerned. I have spoken at length with my mum (we spell differently here, like colour) and she says there is nothing to be concerned about. I have looked at the Australia national database for HIV, currently in my state there is 303 women living with HIV of all age groups, 21 and 25 new infections were identified Australia wide to 30 June 03 and 04 respectively in woman after heterosexual sex (IDU, people form high prevalence countries, etc removed). There were 187 new infections in males in my state to 30 June 2004, almost 88% of which were in gay/bisexual males, ID users and people from high prevalence countries. I understand from my readings that it is 8 times harder for a male to contract HIV from a woman as it is for a woman to catch it from a man and working in applied finance I have worked the potential for me to actually have slept with a woman with HIV to be 1.0103 in 100,000 (a figure that could be narrowed by age but the data is not available). So I know then to actually be infected with HIV she would have had to be that 1.0103 and I would have to be pretty unlucky. The exposure didnt last for very long owing to my drunken state and the way the old fella behaves when drunk and we gave up after around 5 minutes. Also I didnt ejaculate. Does this place me at a higher potential for exposure? Also doesnt the level of manifestation of the virus potentially in her also contribute to the odds?

So there are the stats and there is my paranoia and anxiety. I have also been studying for my masters for which I have had exams in the last week and I know that between the stress of exams and the added complexity of my anxiety condition I have probably blown things way out of proportion and placed a whole lot of stress on myself. Plus all the worry has stopped me from sleeping too and now I am on sleeping tablets making things worse. This is all followed by the fact that I cannot have the test for at least 3 months I understand.

Also while you are reading this can you put me in touch with any HIV/AIDS organisations (again with the spelling) in Australia as my family and I would like to donate our time to helping those living with this illness during Christmas? Its horrible that it has taken my personal scare to get people like my family to actively help out, but better late than never right? And my thoughts go out to you and yours and everyone else who has been touched by HIV/AIDS (especially all the children) during this holiday season, hopefully one day it will be a thing of the past.

Warm regards and all the best from downunder, you are really making a difference Dr Bob, just knowing that there is someone like you out there doing everything you are doing helps.

Stupidly Unprotected Tanned Aussie Beach Guy

Response from Dr. Frascino

Dear Stupidly Unprotected Tanned Aussie Beach Guy,

A few comments:

1. As for "emailing a doctor on the other side of the world for advice," well, since you live in Oz, isn't just about everything "on the other side of the world," except for Koalas, Kangas and vegemite?

2. As for having "read almost everything on the Internet regarding HIV/AIDS," perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration, Mate. Try googling HIV/AIDS to see the number of sites that pop up.

3. As for sleeping with an "older lady, she was 30 . . . ," gosh, if she's "older," what the hell am I???

4. As for "suffering from anxiety" that "exacerbates things greatly . . . ," I couldn't agree more.

5. Regarding your statistics . . . , have you also calculated your risk of being done in by a funnel web spider or gobbled alive by an oversized Tasmanian devil? I think the odds would be similar.

6. Last, as for "I have probably blown things way out of proportion and placed a whole lot of stress on myself . . . ," BINGO! Right you are, Mate!

I suggest you get some counseling to help you cope with your irrational fears and chronic anxiety problem. I also suggest you get HIV tested at three months, and if you plan to root like a wombat, remember to shield your stump before you start to hump. As for volunteer work, just look up local AIDS service organization. There are a variety to choose from, whether your tanned bum is usually parked on the Gold Coast, the Barrier Reef or Bondi!

Good luck and G'day!

Santa Rocks!

Dr. Bob



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