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Why Should I test?

Mar 6, 2007

Dr. Bob,

I dont mean this question to be argumentative; Im honestly struggling with it and wondering if theres a good reason. Almost three months ago I very stupidly had unprotected sex with a guy I dont know anything about. I went in for screening for everything a few weeks later, and all was normal, but I know I need another HIV test to get a definitive answer on that. At first I was overcome with panic and anxiety, and was anxious to take the three month test because I was sure I had it. Then research, time without symptoms, and a few trusted friends calmed me down and Ive gotten to the point where I think Im probably ok, though I know only a test can prove that. My life is mostly back to normal.

As I understand it, HIV takes years to progress to the point where treatment is recommended. Im 21, most of my family and friends arent that enlightened on this topic, and I know that if I had it theyd be afraid of me being around them and ashamed of me for behaving like such a dumb skank and throwing my life away over nothing. Frankly, at this point in my life Im much more afraid of having to live with HIV than dying of it. Why do I need to know now, and live more years with the knowledge hanging over my head? This unprotected incident was my one screw upIve never had unprotected sex before and wont do it again. If I have protected sex and I dont know my status, then Im considered responsible and wont infect anyone, but if I found out I had it and had protected sex without disclosure then Id be some evil criminal whore. I could see testing if a) I was in a long term relationship and we wanted to both get tested and stop using condoms b) I wanted to have a baby (which I certainly dont now, and I use the pill on top of condoms) c) A condom broke and someone was worried enough about my potential exposure that they wanted me to test so they could make a choice about PEP d)I started to have physical symptoms and needed medical treatment.

But now, when I feel physically fine and have no plans for unprotected anything, why should I risk screwing up the next few years of my life by knowing now? What incentive is there for testing now instead of waiting a few years?

Response from Dr. Frascino


"Frankly, at this point in my life I'm much more afraid of having to live with HIV than dying of it." Sorry, I don't buy that. You've already had episodes of being "overcome with panic and anxiety . . . because I was sure I had it." Do you really think these fears will not return whenever you're sick with common ailments? My guess is that you will worry about HIV with every sniffle. As for the "incentive" to get tested now rather than waiting until you "have physical symptoms and need medical treatment" is that if you are positive and wait until your immune system is shot and symptoms appear, it may well be too late for significant recovery. Your attitudes about avoiding testing are indefensible and lack even a modicum of common sense. And you're 21. It's time to grow up. And that means accepting responsibility for your actions, rather than worrying that Mommy and Daddy might think you're a skank!

Dr. Bob

Cuts on the Shaft, it really hurts
she gave me a blow job and it looks like she gave me hiv

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