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+/- Magnetic Couple: Against all odds...
Feb 19, 2007

Hi Dr. Bob,

(Pardon the Phill Collins-inspired title) It's your old pal Justin Case. How goes it? Here in the Northeast, we're shoveling ice, snow and muttering under our breaths wishing we were sipping Mojitos on our porch. Hopefully, you're warmer, muttering to yourself less, and enjoying the occasional dirty martini.

Irony, the alignment of the stars, and scantily-clad good looking gentlemen (not including yourself) have brought us back together at last. As a graduate of your Woo-Hoo class of 2005, I'm back to get my Ph.D. in the Woo-Hoo class of 2007. I recently discovered that my most recent romantic interest is HIV+, after we went spent some days and nights together.

Being a part of this site, I told myself that I wouldn't ever make a decision based on a potential partner's HIV status affect my ability or willingness to engage in a relationship with him. However, faced with this, I've been doing a lot of soul searching. And there are a few things going on right now. I'll attempt to put them in some sort of numerical list so that I don't blabber on and on for paragraphs at a time (though I still have that tendency regardless.)

I made a pledge to myself that "safer sex" activities with someone would involve insertive/receptive unprotected oral sex (without ejaculation) and protected insertive/receptive anal sex. We spent a night together, involving two mutual instances of oral play (brief mutual fellatio and rimming) that didn't culminate in an ejaculation on either of our behalves.

And, if this guy turned out not to be in the running for "Mr. Right" and I didn't learn of his HIV status, I would likely not be concerned about that particular exposure and would go on living and getting routine tests every 12 months or so. However, I made a decision to engage in the aforementioned activities regardless of HIV status with a person that I would want to slowly romantically progress; so I'm slightly worried about transmission via that instance, but not terribly so.

Let us start the numerical list:

1. Okay. I lied. I'm worried. Because, as a gay man, it's ALL about me, I'm delusional enough to think that *I* put the '0.5' in the 0.5/10,000 per-act infection rate for receptive oral contact. I guess I can liken it to buying a Powerball ticket. I'm not going to take a dump on the boss' desk and write "I QUIT" with my index finger and sashay out the door, but I'm also not going to throw away my ticket before checking the results. I guess, I'd just like your reassurance that I shouldn't be doing anything inappropriate on the boss's desk anytime soon... Would you consider this isolated evening cause for a 3 month test effective now, or should I just proceed with testing as normal (next year about this time).

2. And this plays in to #1 and the rest of my preface... I have General Anxiety Disorder; for which I'm currently on Prozac and seeing a therapist weekly in an effort to control. This "Mr. Right" has made me laugh like a school girl on a merry go round; moreso than anyone else I can recall as of late. And the last thing I would want to do is to hurt him due to my own issues. However, I must admit that as a result of my own anxiety, I'm extremely reluctant to even consider engaging in the most protected of activities with him (for the time being), just because of that tiny miniscule chance. I'd like to think myself as capable (eventually) of processing and correctly reacting to the risks, much like you and your partner have been doing for over a decade. Do you have any advice?

3. Are there any resources (here or that you can provide) that would give me direction as to what's considered safe (for example, condom-less oral is a topic up for debate from some of the folks with whom I've discussed this). I know that above all, it's what *WE* consider to be safe that is the bottom-line (excuse the pun), but any additional information would be helpful.

Thanks for your help, as always, Dr. Bob. I don't want this to adversely affect what could turn out to be meaningful. I want to be able to deal with my own anxiety without hurting him, and in the meantime, to engage in a safe and satisfying relationship. I know he has concerns as well as mine and I want to be in a place to be able to discuss them without any clouded judgment on my behalf. Any insight, words of wisdom and applicable good luck karma would be greatly appreciated.

Always the best, my friend...

- Justin Case

P.S. I think if I get one more question posted, I'm eligible to win the coveted "Pillow stuffed with Dr. Bob's chest hair" from my Dr. Bob Fan Club catalog. Put in a good word for me! :)

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Justin,

It's 75 degrees here under brilliantly sunny skies. Now remind me again why anyone voluntarily lives in the Northeast???

Regarding your quest for a "PhD," please note they require determination, fortitude and reasoned thought. So be prepared to expend some effort to ultimately gain what you desire, OK?

On to your questions:

1. First off, lying is never a good idea. Next, it can't be "ALL about me" when you're interested in exploring the possibility of an "Us." If you believe you put the "0.5" in the 0.5/10,000 statistic, then you have to also believe your Powerball ticket is a sure thing. In that case, you would have no doubts about your "dump and sashay" routine. However, I'm willing to bet your belief that you will win the Powerball is less strong (and more realistic) than your fear of contracting HIV from an extremely low-risk activity, right? That means you've still got some work to do with your therapist to confront your irrational HIV fears. Should you get tested for this "isolated evening?" Despite the risk being extremely remote, if you are worried, get tested. It may be the most effective and efficient means to put your unwarranted fears permanently to rest.

2. I would suggest you continue to work closely with your therapist regarding your general anxiety disorder and how it interplays with sexual risk. I'll repost something from the archives below that tries to put risk into proper perspective. One thing that might help would be for you and your new boy-toy to read through the archives of this forum pertaining to magnetic couples. There's a wealth of information there that may help you both establish sexual rituals that you both agree are safe or safe enough, based on what is known scientifically and your individual comfort levels. This is called negotiated risk (or negotiated safety).

3. There are many resources the archives and related links, for instance that provide what we know about sexual risk based on epidemiologic studies and science. However beyond that, there are always extenuating circumstances, which is why we call it "safer sex," rather than absolutely safe sex.

Justin, I would urge you not to let Mr. Right get away for all the wrong reasons.

Finally, regarding the "pillow," sorry, but the only way to sleep on Dr. Bob's chest hair is to nuzzle your head onto my chest and that spot is already permanently reserved for my respected colleague in the Tratamientos Forum. I suggest you make another selection from that catalog!

Stay well, Justin.

Dr. Bob

feeling good!just to say thank you Jan 14, 2007

I'm really always scared about getting HIV that it made me obbsessive and I started not being able to live my normal life thank god I found this forum I started reading every thing in here and now after some days I really feel better !really better ..., cant say anything else,you are greatttttt from canada

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi Canadian Worrier,

Fear of HIV made you "obbsessive"??? Hmmm . . . as in using too many "b's"??? Why worry so much about something that is so simply and effectively preventable?

Here, let me try to take your mind off of HIV. Lots of things try to kill you every day. The death squad starts even before your alarm clock wakes you up in the morning. Falls out of bed while sleeping kill 600 Americans each year and then there is the early morning heart attack, which is 40% more common than those that strike later in the day. Then how about a fatal plunge down the stairs, a slightly too generous bite of sausage that gets lodged in your throat, the tumble on an icy sidewalk or the high-speed automotive bumper-cars game on your daily commute to work? And then throughout the day, will the cabbie's brakes fail while you are in the crosswalk? Will you have an allergic reaction to a food or bee sting? See what I mean? You don't have to worry about HIV. There are all kinds of other ways the grim reaper can grab you in his icy grip. Now don't you feel so much better knowing all that??? I'm delighted you found the information here informative and helpful. There's no justification to "obbsess" about HIV if you just use latex condoms for penetrative sex. Keep real risks in their proper perspective and your fears should be easier to cope with, OK?

Be well! Hey, isn't that a black widow spider I see crawling up your leg?

Dr. Bob



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