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Woo hoo luck of the irish

Jan 23, 2006

Hi Dr Bob

Well, what can I saybut only words of extreme relief. Im a 20 year old male from Ireland. I went on holidays to the Mediterranean during the summer. One night, I got extremely drunk, and got sexually assaulted. I felt very ashamed at the time, and couldnt believe that it happened to me. I was so scared to say to anyone as to what happen, even though that was possibly one of the most stupid things to do!

Anyway, I contemplated on the fact that I could have acquired STDs from this incident. I worried a lot about it, especially HIV infection. Exactly two weeks later, I started to get painful lymph nodes under my chin; the pain then spread to the lymph nodes in front and behind my ears, my neck and base of head, and trachea. In addition, I had a mild sore throat, slight temperature increase and severe depression. The sore throat only lasted a few days but the pain in the lymph nodes persisted for 2 weeks. I was convinced I contracted HIV. I contemplated on suicide; because essentially I felt that my life was ruined and there was no way I could progress in my career (i.e. to become a Doctor. I have already done one and a half years of a degree in medicine.)

I knew I had to get tested. I waited 3 months and contacted the STD clinic, and I had to wait a further 4 weeks to get tested. (I dont know whether a 4 week waiting list is a good thing or a bad thing!).

I can only say it was the most surreal thing that has ever happened to me. I never envisaged ever having to go to an STD clinic! The doctor at the clinic was the first person to find out about my incident. I was received a full screen, and I was referred to a health advisor. She was great because I could discuss my issues much more with her. She gave me information on a charity who deals with those who have been sexually assaulted and told me that they offer great counseling and a chance for me to discuss with others who have suffered.

Anyway, the test results came back, all of them were clear! I was so relieved. Well, what did I learn from this experience? 1). Go to the police. Its extremely important to go to the police in the event of an assault even if you cant remember what the person looked liked. As well they should make sure that you receive Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). (I actually didnt know about PEP at the time, thus showing that even medical students are unaware about some fundamental things about HIV.)

2) Dont be ashamed. Its not your fault.

3) Drink makes you extremely vulnerable, control your intake, you will be thankful in the long run. Since that event I have reduced my alcohol intake and I will never get as drunk as I did that night.

4) Dont fret. Its hard I did it continuously for 4 months and I even had some symptoms of HIV seroconversion but it turned out to be something completely different.

5) Listen to Dr. Bob!

Well, I hope what I have said will help some people, and indeed, as the cliché goes, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Innuendo not intended!

Good luck

Irish guy

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Irish Guy,

Thanks for taking the time to write in. Although I must say that if you "contemplated suicide," even with your 1 years of medical school, you still have much to learn about the value and gift of life. This lesson is crucial if you are to become an effective and compassionate physician.

Dr. Bob



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