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Shingles at age 28? Im about to lose my mind. Please Answer
Sep 3, 2006

Dr. Bob,

I received an HIV negative result exactly 1 year ago (and well past the window period). Since that time I have had sex with 3 "high risk" females. Each were protected and the condom did not break. Anyway, over the last 2 months i have let the "am i infected" monster creep back into my head. Compounded with graduate school examinations over the last 6 weeks, I have been an absolute emotional wreck. Ive had indigestion and loose stools and jock itch. Ive been sleeping terribly. So today i look in the mirror and see a a red patch outbreak on my back. I know its shingles because im in the health care profession. Anwyay, i go onto the internet, the trusty steed of the symptom hunter, and found multiple sites saying that Zoster infections are a common first sign of HIV infection. I went to the ER and explained to the doctor my fears. He was an absolute asshole and just told me that "only immuncompromised young people get shingles", shook my hand, and left. Is this true? Can 6 weeks of crippling anxiety over possibe HIV infection, compounded with school examinations cause this. All of my sexual contacts were protected. From other posts it seems like my risk with protected sex with an intact condom would be virtually nonexistent, even if all 3 sexual contacts were HIV+. Please answer. Ive got exams coming up and am incapable of studying.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

I absolutely agree with you! Protected sex with an intact latex condom properly used would make your HIV risk virtually nonexistent, even if your partners were HIV positive.

So what's up with letting the creepy "am I infected monster" creep back into your brain??? You know the facts!!! HIV cannot permeate intact latex. No way. No how. You're a "healthcare professional," frevinsakes!

As for the Internet being the "trusty steed of the symptom hunter," I'd say that's a one-way ride to worried-well hell!

Regarding the ER doctor, yep, "absolute asshole" would be accurate. Plus, I would add "woefully misinformed" to the adjective list. Shingles can occur in young folks who are not immunocompromised! If he doesn't know this, he shouldn't be working in an ER. In fact, he shouldn't have even made it out of medical school.

So relax, Max! Your HIV test a year ago was negative and your risks since then are "virtually nonexistent." If the "red patch outbreak" on your back is indeed shingles, this is not due to HIV. Yes, stress ("crippling anxiety") can cause a flare in herpes eruptions.

It's time for you to put the creeping creepy "am I infected" monster back in his cage. Scientific fact plus common sense should keep him/her securely and permanently locked up!

Now get back to your books! You can't use HIV as an excuse for not studying anymore!

Good luck on your exams. Stay well.

Dr. Bob



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