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Apr 8, 2007

Dear Doc,

I am very confused and feel like just ending everything with a jump from the highest overpass I see in my sight. I dont have anyone much to talk to about this and who I speak to about it, think I am crazy. This is the situation. I had repeated exposure to the virus until I found out that my scumbag now exboyfriend is +. Since then my life is just a living hell and I dont think I can go on any further. I found out in July 2006 that he was positive. In August 15, 2006, I tested negative for the virus. Early October, I had flu like symptoms, I felt very ill and went and did another test. I tested negative on October 1, 23 & 25. Since I had that illness, I have persistent muscle aches and also fatigue. I thought I would be happy and I even wrote to you in the worried wells section. In November, I started to take hepatitis vaccines. I took one in November, one in December and is due for another one shortly. In October, I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with herpes which I am sure I did not have before now. I went and got tested again in January and on February 13, 2007 and both came back negative. I am still having serious pains in my groin, under my arms and my neck. My doctor found a small swollen lymph node on my neck. He keeps telling me that I have nothing to worry about but I dont feel ok. I am very depressed. I was worried but now I am very very worried and I feel like I am dead already. I read in your column about that guy who had an intermediate western blot result and then tested positive for the virus. He mentioned he was taking shots too so therefore I am wondering if it is masking the antibodies and therefore showing negative until the body fully recuperates from the vaccines. Doc, please help me, I would like to know the following:

1. I got tested at a GLCC and they told me that the test (oraquick) that they use is so sensitive that they have eliminated the 6 months window period and it is now officially 3 months even though the CDC recommends 6 months after repeated exposure, what is correct? 2. Do you think that the hepatitis vaccines could be masking the antibodies and therefore causing the tests to be negative? I havent had any exposure since July 30, 2006 but somehow I dont feel good. 3. Could hiv cause me to have herpes? 4. What are my chances of seroconverting after 7 months and could I have seroconverted 10 weeks after my last exposure? 5. How accurate are those oraquick tests? 6. Do you think there are a lot of people seroconverting after 3 & 6 months and the CDC is misinforming them? Thank you Doc, I love you, I appreciate your kind help to worried folks like me.

Response from Dr. Frascino


I'll be brief, because HIV is not your problem. Yes, I'll agree your ex is a scumbag; however, luckily you did not contract HIV from him! Your repeatedly negative HIV tests out to seven months following your last possible exposure are definitive and conclusive. HIV is not your problem. No way. No how. You correctly identified your real problem when you wrote ". . . I am very depressed. I was worried but now I am very very worried and I feel like I am dead already." Your problem is depression and anxiety, not HIV!

To briefly respond to your specific questions:

1. I believe three months is sufficient for most routine potential HIV exposures. If you've had a significant exposure to a known HIV-positive partner, the CDC recommends a six-month confirmatory test. You can read more details about my feelings pertaining to the three-month versus six-month window period in the archives. Since you've tested negative out to seven months, none of this really applies to your particular situation.

2. No. The immune system doesn't work that way.

3. No. These are two distinct viruses.

4. Chances of seroconverting after seven months are essentially nonexistent.

5. Very.

6. No.

I urge you to seek psychological or psychiatric counseling to evaluate and treat your depression, anxiety and irrational HIV fears.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

do you take volunteers at your clinic?

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