To ALL in the worried well:
Sep 26, 2006
Dear Dr. Bob, First of all I would like to start by saying that your columns have helped me tremendously the past few months. The way that you address the seriousness of this disease combined with your personality and humor, really takes the sting off of the anxieties that go along with HIV/AIDS. I'll be making my donation next week on payday. Here's my story. I am a 33 year old bisexual male that now hows a steady girlfriend. Four months ago, before I met my girlfriend, I had an experience with a 24 year old man of unknown status. I engaged in unprotected oral (both giving and receiving). I also received protected anal intercourse. Approximately one month later, I developed a high fever for two days, then on the third day, severe nausea, stomach pain, diarhea. I was scared that this was ARS. I then learned that several of my co-workers were also sick with a "stomach flu", so I dismissed my thoughts about HIV and ARS. In mid August, I developed another high fever which lasted four days. It was accompanied by a cough, chills, sweats, and diarhea. I went to my physician and learned that I had pneumonia. I was prescribed Levaquin and started feeling better in about a week. I then started obsessing about HIV and my past experience. Over the next month, I had consistant diarhea, loss of appetite, loss of 12 pounds. I developed a rash on both sides of my face by my sideburns which looked exactly like the sebborhic dermatitis that I have read about. I still have the rash. I even contracted a yeast infection on my right thigh between my scrotum. I had to use "monistat", topically, for a week. I continued having night sweats. I was sure that this was the final sign of HIV. I was convinced that I had HIV because these were all concrete symptoms. I was terrified to go and take the HIV test because I was sure that it would confirm my fears. I became very depressed and had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. I was envisioning having to tell my girlfriend that I had HIV and she could possibly be infected. My anxiety level went through the roof. I could not function at my workplace. I finally sought a psychiatrist and was prescribed Lexapro and Ativan. The medications took the edge off of my anxiety, but I was still obsessing. I was examining my body every day for more symptoms and assessing my current "symptoms". I finally wore myself down and went for the HIV test. I could not take the fear of the unknown anymore. It took three days for the result. Over the three waiting days, I imagined how my life was going to change when I learn that I'm HIV positive. To my shock and suprise, I was HIV negative! I could not believe this result. I was tested four months after my encounter, therefore it is a conclusive test. I am still in disbelief of the test. Anxiety doesn't just go away over night and the stress that I put on my body is slowly coming off. My point is this. To all the people that are worried about HIV and convinced that you have been exposed or have contracted HIV: Take the test!!! You just may be suprised at the result. Besides, not knowing is far worse than knowing. The sooner that you know that you have HIV, the sooner you can get treatment.
Response from Dr. Frascino
Thanks for taking the time to write in and share your story and its happy/healthy ending! Congrats! and WOOO-HOOO! I'm delighted the "stress that (you) put on your body is slowly coming off!" Like so many of the folks who have had similar experiences, you'll be amazed at how your symptoms "magically" melt away once the reality that you are indeed HIV negative soaks in!
Thanks for your donation (www.concertedeffort.org).
Be well. Stay well!
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