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No-one to talk to in Japan
Aug 28, 2006

Dr Bob, thank you for reading me! I do not know if you will answer, but just writing this helps me. I hope that you will find my story ridiculous and that you will tell me, so I may be able (?) to stop to worry...

Anyway, I am an expatriate living in Japan with my family (wife and one one-year old baby) for a few years now. I went through a crisis recently: been fired from my job and a lot of quarrels with my wife. Our relationship has been quite bad for long, with some talks of divorce from time to time.

Then, I made the mistake about 12 days ago: I went with a prostitute. Not much happened actually. We went to a "Love Hotel" room, took a shower separately, then we lied naked next to each other in the bed, staying like this for about 40 minutes and talking. That's all, we had no sexual contact at all (meaning that I did not touch her vagina with any part of my body and she did not touch my penis with any part of her body; also no kisses). I was wearing a towel around my waist all the time (the towel was clean). I think that she gave me once a dry kiss on my nipple (I do not remember clearly if she did this or not, maybe I am just imagining because I am repeating this story over and over again in my head, looking for what may have put me at risk).

What worried me is that she told me it was the second time she used this room this day. I wonder if I would be at risk if I came into contact with the semen left somewhere here by her previous customer. I did not actually see nor feel some semen anywhere, I just think it is possible. For example, under the shower. Her previous customer must have come to the shower after sex, washed himself and must have touched the faucets at one moment with some semen on his hands. Let's say I come half an hour later, touch the same faucet, then touch my penis. That would be a theoretical risk of infection, right?

I have another concern: I do not remember where I have left my trousers in this room while I was laying in the bed. I imagine I could have left them at a place where there could have been a few drops of semen from the previous customer. The room was dark, so I may have not seen some semen on the floor.

The next day, I put on the same trousers (mistake!). They looked completely dry, but I have not checked them completely. In the morning, I remember that my child has hugged my legs and licked my trousers. He has some eczema on his face.

What would happen if he had accidentely touched or licked the place where there was some semen left by the previous client of the prostitute? Let's say the previous customer was HIV positive, and left some semen in the middle of the room, and I left my trousers at this same place, and there was enough semen on my trousers to be still infectious 8 hours later (more than 1 hour in this hotel room, 1 hour in a wet environment as I walked outside a lot under the rain before coming back, then 6 hours in the dry environment of my appartment), but not enough for me to notice it, and my boy licked my trousers where this semen was? He would be surely at risk of infection!

I have browsed the archives of this site, and concluded that nor me nor him were at risk of infection. But I am still afraid that one of us will get HIV in this unprecedented way, and that I will then write back on this site (actually, I do not know if I will have the courage to test my son, I hope that you will tell me to not do it), therefore triggering an large-scale panick among the worried wells! (Imagine: "my son got infected by licking the semen of a HIV-positive guy that has been in the environment for at least 8 hours, transferred from one surface to another, and that I did not even see").

I try to take it lightly while writing this, but am seriously really scared now. I feel that I have a very fast heartbeat all the day long and can feel some pain in my chest. I have headaches and cannot sleep easily. Just after I wake up in the morning, HIV is my first thought and it does not leave me for the whole day. It is very difficult for me to concentrate on something else, at a time I most need it.

I have always been paranoid about HIV (I was a familiar reader of this site even before this incident). In the past, I got worried of catching it from a videotape, from a faucet, from public toilets (I have been afraid of this countless times). I have tested for HIV a dozen of times. I know I have OCD and anxiety disorder. I have been on medication (Zoloft 100 mg per day) for a while, but I have difficulties meeting a psychiatrist right now. Plus my life is very unstable as I have lost my job.

Right now, I am beating up myself: because I have cheated on my wife (yes, I will definitely have to level with her, I just wonder when will be the best time), because I knew that I was paranoid about HIV and still choosed to go with a prostitute, because I did this in a difficult moment of my life when I need to work, and because I have a child. I was already in a depression before this incident, but it made things much worse. I think I have a very fragile mental health, and I am very sensitive to others judgements about me. I imagine what my friends would say if I told them. I have really no-one to talk to except on the net.

Actually, I am not very scared of HIV for myself. After all, there are plenty of people out there who have it and are still able to have a long and meaningful life. So I think I could handle a "positive" result for myself. At least I could stop to worry all the time about being infected by HIV. But I have one marvellous little boy and I am very afraid for him (poor boy, having a father like me...)

I am not able to convince myself that there was no risk from this incident. That's where I need you... I hope that you will laugh at my worries and tell me I am crazy. But I am not sure.

Sorry for bad English (not my native language). Thank you for your time... Please continue your great job here.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

You hope that I will find your story ridiculous? Well, you got that one right. Ridiculous, and sad, rather than laughable.

First of all, since you've been through this many times before (". . . always been paranoid about HIV . . . worried about catching it from a videotape, from a faucet, from public toilets . . . countless times"), you already know exactly what I'm going to say about your current concerns of contracting HIV form yet another faucet or your son contracting it from licking your trousers! These are not "unprecedented ways" to contract HIV; they are impossible ways! You and your son's HIV risk is not even theoretical. You and your son's chance of contracting HIV is exactly zero! Nothing! Zip! Nada ! Got it??

Your symptoms are completely consistent with anxiety and depression. That you would even consider that being HIV positive would be a relief because you could then stop worrying about becoming infected speaks volumes about the depths of your psychopathology.

There is not doubt in my mind that despite whatever "difficulties you may have meeting a psychiatrist," that is exactly what you need to do ASAP. I totally agree your mental health is indeed fragile and it needs immediate attention. HIV is not your problem. No way. No how.

The one thing I did find laughable in your post was your experience at that love shack called the "Love Hotel." Did you actually have to pay for those "services?" Separate showers, lying naked (by the way, "wearing a towel around my waist all the time" doesn't exactly qualify as lying naked), talking for 40 minutes, no sexual contact, etc.!!?!? If you paid full price for that, I'd suggest you ask for a refund or at least rename the "Love Hotel" the "No-Love Shack."

Dr. Bob



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