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Escaped the HIV anxiety spiral and it was a tough fight
Dec 6, 2005

First of all, let me just say: Thank you so much, Dr. Bob. Your website was an extremelly compreensive source of information and a beacon through these last 4 months.

About 6 months ago my brother, a physician, got accidently stinged with a needle while treating a HIV+ patient. I know that the odds of getting HIV that way are remote and since he initiated preventing treatment within 2 hours, that reduces the odds substantialy. But nonetheless, the HIV anxiety spiral had my brother and, eventualy, my family. It was some of the toughest moments of my family's life and it was specialy heavy on my brother's shoulders. He is a well balanced person, but it's dificult to mantain logical reasoning in these circumstances, specialy if it was you who placed yourself into. It didn't take long for me to research everything I could about HIV; and I never realized that the spiral was getting to me too.

You see I had protected sex with a woman 2 months after my brother's incident. I knew she had other partners and didn't know her HIV status. It only hit me another 2 months after that I might have contracted HIV. It didn't take long for me to start seing symptoms everywhere. Diahrea, rash, fever, sore throat, headache, night sweats ... had them all and for long periods of time (+3 weeks). I had no logical reason to assume I was +, but such is the power of this disease: my mind was unhealthy and my body reflected it.

These months took their toll... my personal life was a chaos at the time and my professional life suffered as well. Looking back now all of it - the panic, anxiety atacks - seems unreal. Now I realize why this disease is feared by so many people. Now I understand all the books, diaries, movies, theater plays, paintings about HIV... it doesn't feed on your body: it feeds on your soul ... and you don't even have to be positive. It took everything that I had to test for HIV; and it was negative... words can not express the feeling of hearing such news.

But I could not stop thinking about all those people who tested + ... to have the courage and determination to move on with ur life after such dreaded news. To those people, I offer you my respects. You are definitely the most courageous people I have ever seen. To fight such an uneven war day after day, makes you better than any soldier or any hero in the history of Mankind: a true example of the human spirit. I wish some world leaders were made from the same stuff (ever thought about running for office, Dr. Bob?).

For that I have pledged myself to help in whatever I can to fight it. From now on I will make a monthly donation of 30$ starting today out of my paycheck for as long as I live: hopefuly I'll be able to donate even more in the future. And I'm looking in what I can do as a volunteer (any suggestions, Dr. Bob?) .

This experience has been one of the worst in my life, but it gave a new meaning to it and a new understanding of HIV. I will pass everything that I learned here to everyone that I know. I consider it an obligation to everyone who sees the + in their exam sheet and still find the willpower to move on with their lives.

Thank you Dr. Bob and i'll say it again: you should run for President ;)

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Thank you for taking the time to share your story and for your kind comments. Your brief brush with HIV/AIDS appears to have had a profound effect on your understanding of the plight that over 40,000,000 people worldwide face on a daily basis. Today, December 1, is World AIDS Day; yet most of the world unfortunately does not possess your degree of understanding. In fact, the world's apathy and silence regarding HIV/AIDS is deafening. One would have to multiply the catastrophic consequences of hurricane Katrina by over 200,000 times to begin to understand the scope of the AIDS crisis. Every 10 seconds, another life is snuffed out by AIDS; yet our country spends more on potato chips than HIV/AIDS.

Regarding volunteer opportunities to help combat the pandemic, they are literally unlimited! I don't know where you are writing from, but I suggest you call your local AIDS service organizations. They should be able to provide you with a range of ways to get involved at the local level.

Thank you for your gift and pledge. Considering it costs less than one dollar to save a life by helping to prevent HIV infection, by year-end you may have saved over 360 lives! On behalf of those 360 and the over 40,000,000 of us struggling to survive, please accept my heartfelt thanks.

Dr. Bob



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