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Thank You Dr. Bob!
Nov 30, 2006

Dear Dr. Bob, Thank you for everything that you have done for the entire contingency of the so called worried well and anyone that may believe that they have contracted HIV. In a world that is still uninformed of a very prevalent disease you serve as a source of education and that is worthy of applause. Although I have been the recipient of excellent sex education throughout my life, I believe there is still room for improvement and the U.S still has many lengths to go in this endeavor. I truly did not believe I was at risk for contracting HIV because I came from a wealthy background and knew that protected sex was the only way to remain completely safe from any sexually transmitted disease. Although I may have slept around in college I always used condoms and played it safe (not really taking into account the risks that may be associated with oral sex). However, I faltered from these standards in August. One night, after seeing my two very involved friends being lovey-dovey with one another I suddenly was overcome with a great sense of loneliness (which was most certainly exacerbated by the fact that I was drunk). I ended up sleeping with a complete stranger and I have absolutely no recollection of whether or not we used a condom or he ejaculated. My immediate concern the next morning was getting pregnant and I hurried to take Plan B yet the idea of HIV didn't pop into my head until about a month or so later. All of a sudden it hit me, this complete stranger who I knew absolutely nothing about, could have harbored many diseases, including HIV...and then terror struck. I luckily discovered your forum and, despite being completely devastated initially, I learned more about the virus and it's impact upon society. Like many other members of the worried well I was convinved I was HIV positive, especially after a real encounter like mine. You receive many emails from concerned individuals who sound as if they are at a very limited risk, if at all, and I applaud them for at least coming forward to ask you about this. I was too nervous to do so. Yet you manage to have the patience to answer their questions and point them forward in their search for information about HIV. Unfortunately we come from a society that is very negligent of these very real problems until they become a personal issue and then they seem to become all that more pertinent. I would love to say that it was easy for me to get tested for HIV after my exposure, but it was an extremely difficult and trying time for myself. I initially wept many times thinking about what life would be like after HIV and how I would cope, imagining telling my family I had been dumb enough to engage in risky behavior with a complete stranger. After reading this forum and extensively researching the web and other materials on HIV I realized what a unique position we are in being Americans. While there are still many prejudices about HIV, we have made many advances in learning about the disease and preventing its spread and postponing its descent into AIDS. We are lucky enough to live in a country that has made strides in HIV testing (making it available to everyone who seeks it) and anti-retroviral medications. In this lengthy message, which I hope you post, I will say that although I had no symptoms of ARS, I was beyond disconcerted that it had been noted that symptoms do not equal HIV (naturally, and quite logically, I took this to mean that not having symptoms didn't mean I did not have HIV). After three and a half very agonizing months and reading an encouraging post, I decided, very spur of the moment, to get tested...and it came back negative. I have definitely learned a lesson here-sex is okay and great, but protected sex is even greater because you won't have to worry afterwards. I don't know if I had good karma on my side because I work for a Democrat, but I certainly am very grateful for this new lease on life that I have received. I promise to not be so selfish in the future as to risk my health for a few moments of drunken gratification, as I hope many others who may read this will. I also hope that we continue making strides towards a cure for this virus, and the newly elected (woohoo!) democratic congress will continue to fund the Ryan White Care Act at least at it current levels and hopefully above it. Most importantly, I hope the Bush administration (I know how much you dislike them...as do I) will learn that std's CANNOT be prevented by abstinence-only education. The only way we can prevent the spread of HIV is through knowledge and education. Again, I'd like to thank you for all that you have done for everyone affected by HIV or those who think that they are. I have most certainly been enlightened and will always think of this incidence before I have sex with anyone...as I would expect of anyone reading this. Please remain well and healthy as you are a source of comfort to all of us out there...and Vivent les democrats! (my French is a little rusty). *Also, expect a donation shortly.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Thank you for your very kind comments. They are warmly appreciated.

As World AIDS Day fast approaches, it's worth noting that another 3,000,000 people in the world died of AIDS this year (2006). Only one quarter of the estimated 4.6 million adults in need of HIV medications in Africa are receiving it. The statistics for HIV-positive kids in developing countries are even worse! Only 1 in 20 HIV-positive kids in developing nations who need HIV medications are currently receiving it! And even here in the U.S. this year, three people in South Carolina died because they were on a waiting list to receive free HIV meds. More than 300 HIV-positive folks in the U.S. remain on waiting lists because they can't afford their meds! Your tax-deductible gift to The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation will help to provide crucial services to HIVers worldwide. On behalf of those whose lives will be touched by your gift, please accept my heartfelt thanks.

Be well. Stay well.

Dr. Bob



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