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My unique story being a WW

Jan 14, 2005

I am from an Asian country. 4 and a half years ago when I was 23, fresh out of college and naive. I was made drunk by a "friend" and brought to a sex worker. Drunk as I was, I was magically able to use a condom. Unfortunately, there was a healing dog bite (2 days prior) in my hand, and I remember touched the sex worker's juice somehow with my hand. As with all ww's I became worried after the episode and had had numerous symptoms during the ensuing months. I had got tested for antibody at 2, 6, 12, 25 weeks and all came back negative. Not believing this, I applied to a grad school in a more affluent Asian country, hoping they had more sensitive technology. I went there and got tested - negative. How could I be negative with my exposure and symptoms? I just couldn't believe it.

At that point, in spite of the neg ELISA I entirely believed I was infected. 2 yrs had passed and my experience in the grad school in this other Asian country is a lousy one. But I suddenly decided I should go to the US where almost all the state of the art technologies related to HIV were developed, and there I would get the best chance to survive this disease. So I worked a little bit and got two papers published on some top-notch American journals. And then I spent two months squeezing 7000 strange-looking words into my head and then beat the GRE. Another month was spent preparing for the GRE advanced as I wanted to change my major from chemical engineering to physics. Of course, TOEFL was also taken. (by the way, you Americans are good at giving troubles to me - I did not like any of those tests). Then going through applications I finally got quite a few grad schools to choose from. I didn't cheat to get the visa, because I was never diagnosed with HIV so I could answer "no" when asked if I had any communicable diseases. So here I am, in the center of modern sciences, in one of the best universities in the world, with good insurance and ready for HAART (my salvia is dripping down). I know a foreigner with HIV is "removable" by this country's law, but I think I will figure out a way to do it. But wait a moment, should I get confirmed diagnosis before doing anything? So I waited one year and a half until recently I got an anonymous test. The result just came back: NEGATIVE. This is just beyond my comprehension. How could this be? What have I been working so hard for? I have lost the sense of purpose. I deeply believe I could have been better off spending the same past few years with my parents and other loved ones. I need some time to put all these into perspective.

Any way, I must thank you Dr. Frascino as you have been a constant source of inspiration for me. I admire you. As a great human you not only have fought bravely but have served with you compassion and knowledge so many from all over the world, me included. I wish you the best of luck for the next 100 years!

Response from Dr. Frascino


Amazing story! Thank you for taking the time to write in and share your experience. It's enlightening to see how you propelled yourself through several countries, the GRE, and graduate training programs in chemical engineering and physics just to gain access to "good insurance and HAART," which so many of us in the Western World take for granted.

Congratulations on your negative HIV tests and your academic achievements! Yell WOO-HOO and go celebrate by spending some quality time with your loved ones! I think your perspective is now very clear.

Stay well.

Dr. Bob

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