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Now I ask for your help...

Jul 7, 2006

Dr Bob, I need your knowledge and support ASAP, as cant seem to bring myself to get tested until I hear from you. You seem to give me that extra little bit of strength when I read your posts, and you do give people more courage to get tested and keep on living with hiv. So, I hope you can give me the courage to be able to go ahead and deal with this. I have had a high risk encounter in a relationship last year (we didnt use protection for the last 6 months of it). I have had very obvious symptoms, and I "know" you are not here to make high risk people feel good, but with some of the ridiculous questions you do have to answer at times (sorry...but they are), I would hope that my concern is what this site is here for. I cant get tested until i hear from you....

The situation.

Had unprotected sex late last year * SEPT - one month or so later - worst flu I've ever had. Fever, chills, joint and muscle pain, vagueness, bad nausea etc etc * OCT - Partner had shingles not long after????? (this is concerning) Then everything then was ok....... * JANUARY 06 - Large swollen gland in my right armpit, went away within a week or two * APRIL - Little swollen glands under both arms, tender (lasted about a week or two) and one in my neck that went down after a day or two. (side of neck - halfway down) * Since then nothing major, but do feel I have increased floaters in my vision and also increased joint pain from old injuries, but they seem to be more painful and frequent now in knees, fingers etc...

I dont "internet diagnose" my symtpoms, and I dont "imagine" my symtpoms, I only thought of hiv when all these symptoms seemed to have been linked. My ex partner could have a high risk of being infected, but unsure where he is to ask him anything.

I have been in contact with my local testing clinic, and below is an extract from the response a counseller/doctor gave me today... Has he given me false hope? Is there a chance this may not be hiv? I know you cant diagnose over the net, I dont want you to, I just need you to tell me if there is a possibilty this could be something else, and I can keep a little bit of faith here?

His response "I can understand that this is a very scary time for you, and seeking help is definitely the way forward, so well done on taking this first step.

Just for your information, as a general rule, people get "seroconversion" (or initial infection) symptoms about 2 weeks after infection that last about 2 weeks and then disappear. Then there are generally no further symptoms for an average of 7 years after infection. The fact that you are having recurring symptoms may in fact mean you do not have HIV. In fact, the initial outbreak and symptoms you had in July 2005 could be because of a herpes infection, not HIV (shingles is a member of the herpes virus family). Prolonged stress can also produce all the symptoms you are experiencing.

Secondly, HIV infection is now considered a manageable disease. With the current medications, people are living normal lives for long periods of time. A person who gets HIV today, may not need to begin treatment for an average of 7 years. With current treatments, and with new treatments being introduced all the time, a person your age who gets HIV today may die of old age before all treatment options are exhausted"...etc etc...

I havent ever asked for your help before, just been a fan of what I see you write in the posts recently...but right now...I really need your help Dr Bob. Please. Promised donation and will get tested after your response.

Thankyou, Amy.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Amy,

First I should clarify a few points:

1. "I can't get tested until I hear from you" is pure nonsense. Childish nonsensical comments like that do not increase the odds I will respond to your question. In fact, they probably have the opposite effect. If you're old enough to be having sex, you're old enough to accept the consequences of those actions. Yes, anyone can (and everyone does) make mistakes from time to time; and yes, even logical folks can be ill-informed or fearful of the consequences of their indiscretions. I'm more than glad to help by providing information and encouragement if I can. However, it's important to note you cannot make your fears my problem, if I can't or don't provide what you request.

2. "I would hope that my concern is what this site is here for . . . ." Wrong again, Little Miss It's All About Me. Actually this site is here to increase HIV/AIDS awareness and provide scientifically sound information about safer sexual practices and HIV prevention. I know you may find this hard to believe, but this site (and my service to it) was not created solely for you.

3. "Promised donation . . . after your response." Sorry, but my advice is not for sale or bribe. I provide information freely to all. Donations should only be given in the spirit of generosity, compassion and a sincere desire to help others in drastic need. If you want to pay for medical advice, why not just schedule a visit with your regular doctor?

OK, now that I've cleared that up, I'll comment on your situation. You had unprotected sex. Therefore you placed yourself at some degree of risk for STDs, including HIV. Consequently you need to be tested three months or longer after your last potential exposure. It really is just that straightforward. Symptoms, as I have mentioned numerous times over the years, do not equal HIV disease. Symptoms, in fact, are notoriously unreliable in predicting who is and who is not infected. So whether you get an answer from Dr. Bob or not, or whether you have "symptoms" or not, you still need to get tested.

Amy, I know it probably seems I'm being very dogmatic about this, but actually I'm just being realistic. You don't need me; you already know what needs to be done. I can't do it for you (or anyone else). I can assess your risk, quote you odds and even hold your hand while you get tested, but it's still you that has to get tested. You don't need my help, Amy. All you need is to get tested, OK?

What I will do is send you my very best good-luck karma that your test is negative, OK?

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

Confuse Please Help Me Dr.

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