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Infection via broken skin
Feb 9, 2005

Infection via broken skin

Dear Dr Bob

This is my fifth attempt to seek your help. Whilst waiting for your response in the past month, I have also sought help from doctors and counselors to help me pull through this darkest period of my life. However, to me, no other persons advice can replace yours.

I had two unusual risk exposures arising from oral contact with massage girls. In the first episode, which happened 1 year ago, the girl licked my balls for about 20 seconds before giving me a protected oral. The skin of my balls has thinned and there were abrasions due prolonged use of medicated cream to treat my Eczema condition and scratching. The second episode took place 6 months ago and as part of the body massage, the girl vigorously licked and sucked my toes for sometime. There were sores and abrasions on my toes and between them due to athlete foot ailment. A few days after each incident, I experienced some ARS symptoms, such as sore throat, muscle pains, slightly raised body temperature ( 36.9 to 37.2) etc. No swollen gland was noted.

In the past few months, I have had rashes on several parts of my body. One month ago, I began to have rashes on my forehead, eyelids and eyebrow. My scalp has become itchy. My doctor did a skin test and confirmed it is seborrheic dermatitis, a condition which I never had before. What worry me is that the condition does not seem to respond to treatment.

I have been under tremendous stress since my first episode that I might get infected through contact with infected fluid (especially blood) via the abrasion, sores on the skin of my ball and or toes. To me, the seborrheic dermatitis condition is a confirmation of my fear that I am infected.

I have consulted two skin specialists in my country, one of whom is also a HIV specialist. They told me that I have a mild seborrheic dermatitis and this could happen to people of my age group (50) and not HIV-infected. They urge me to get tested and get on with my life.

Am I doomed? I am near mental breakdown and lost. I manage to keep my senses only by reading your forum (especially the WW stories) several hours a day. I have not tested because mentally I do not know how to handle the bad news, especially the impacts on my love ones, my wife in particular.

Have you heard of any documented cases like mine. I know I have no other options but to get tested. I am trying very hard to I need your advice and encouragement.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Broken skin and heart

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Broken Skin and Heart,

Your HIV risk (ball licking, toe sucking, protected oral, etc.) is essentially nil, even with eczema, athlete's foot, etc. I absolutely agree with the dermatologists you have already consulted.

You state you have not tested "because mentally you do not know how to handle the bad news." First off, I very strongly doubt the news would be bad. And second, you also write, "Am I doomed? I am near mental breakdown and lost." Do you really want to continue with this type of existence merely because you are afraid of "bad news" that by all indications is not going to be bad but rather exactly the opposite?

Have I heard of any documented cases like yours? If you mean cases of contracting HIV from safe activities like ball licking and toe sucking, no, absolutely not. If you mean cases of minimal to nonexistent HIV exposure driving someone to become an anxiety- and guilt-ridden mess, sure, the archives are chock full of them! Have a look!

Look Guy, you state, "I know I have no other options but to get tested." So, stop procrastinating. I would also suggest you be honest with your wife, as guilt seems to be playing a major role in your anxiety. If you continue to feel doomed, see a psychiatrist and show them this post at the time of your first visit. It will help focus your therapy sessions to confront your guilt and irrational HIV fears.

If you are sick of being "broken," then it's time to get fixed. Right?

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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