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hiv obsession
Aug 19, 2006

Hello Dr. Frascino, I am Simona from Rome...i am a great admiror of your forum, your humanity is an inspiration for me complimenti!! I read your forum a lot and I have one consideration to make: lots of people seem to be obsessed by hiv infection and are scared they have been infected in the most bizzarre sort of ways...This can't be only due to ignorance...I am interested in your point of view... I myself become obsessed at times and I actually convince myself I have put myself at risk even when I haven't...In my mind the borders between reality and imagination become really dim and it always concerns possible hiv infection...I really don't know what to do, I can't seem to get over it alone....

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Simona from Rome,

Thanks for the "complimenti"!

Irrational fears are a psychological problem. Some folks are deathly afraid of spiders or snakes or flying (or flying with "snakes on the plane" or having George Bush screw up the entire world. Oops, OK, that last one is real and worth being frightened about. But the others, like unwarranted HIV/AIDS fears, are phobias persistent, irrational fears of a specific thing or situation, despite awareness and reassurance that it is not a dangerous situation. Phobias sometimes stem from ignorance, but certainly not always. That there has been (and continues to be) so much societal and governmental stigma associated with HIV/AIDS (sex, intravenous drugs, promiscuity, homosexuality, etc.) plus the fact it is essentially incurable makes HIV/AIDS a prime target for phobias.

As for getting over any phobia, I would recommend psychological counseling to help the phobic individual confront and hopefully conquer their irrational fear. Give it a try!

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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