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Can U throw this sailor a lifeline, or am I sunk?
May 30, 2006

Hey Dr Bob, I have one of the infamous QTND, so if you do not post I will understand. Regardless, what you are doing here is great and much appreciated. Well, here goes with my not so unusual or unique tale of woe. It is a typical tale of shore leave in an exotic port of call. Of course, this story involves a little R&R with some local entertainment. I had protected insertive vaginal and unprotected insertive oral sex with and obvious person of unknown status. Now 4 weeks later, the infamous symptoms have manifested themselves and have got me totally shipwrecked! I have been scouring numerous resources and hear that unprotected oral carries a low (.5 per 10,000) to even no risk for HIV. Unfortunately, my sore throat, swollen glands, fatigue, generally itchiness, and now white coated tongue seem pretty real to me. I guess what I am looking for is your expert opinion as to whether or not testing is even warranted, or if my over anxious imagination has turned a small swell into a tidal wave? Well enough of the clever (or not so clever) nautical analogys. What do you think? About my risk vs. my potential to lose my mind over this incident?

Regardless, thanks in advance if you post. Even if you do not, I am sending a donation.

Take care.

Scared Sailor

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hey there Sailor Boy,

The thing about QTND (Questions That Never Die) is that the ANC (Answers Never Change).

Your story is identical to many others, Sailor Boy (or Army Stud, Air Force Flyboy, Marine, Closeted Republican Kook, whatever): protected insertive vaginal and unprotected insertive oral sex with woman (tranny, or in the case of closeted Republican, it could be a farm animal) of unknown status. "Symptoms" show up followed quickly by Internet searches followed by a tsunami of anxiety and then a frantic post to Dr. Bob.

My response is always the same:

1. Protected sex was protected if the latex condom was used properly and did not fail.

2. Oral sex carries a very low risk for HIV transmission.

3. If you are worried (and clearly you are), get a test at the three-month mark. Tests taken prior to three months are not considered to be definitive.

4. Symptoms do not equal HIV disease.

5. The odds are astronomically in your favor that you did not contract HIV from your sexcapade.

Do I think you are HIV infected? Nope. The odds would argue strongly against that.

I'm quite confident your story will end similarly to the gazillions of similar tales posted in the archives. You'll test at three months, yell WOO-HOO, marvel at the fact that your symptoms magically evaporate when you realize you're HIV negative, and then you'll send me a zestfully enthusiastic note saying (usually in all capital letters) HEY DR. BOB, GUESS WHAT?!?!? I'M NEGATIVO! Then I'll try very hard to just say WOO-HOO and congrats while forcefully suppressing my urge to say "see, told ya so!"

Don't be scared Sailor Boy. I see remarkably calm seas and smooth sailing in your future.

Thanks for your donation. I'm sending you my best good-luck/good-health karma in return.

Dr. Bob



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