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Herpes=increased HIV risk? Help!
May 14, 2007

Dear Doctor Robert,

Can I start by saying thank you for the work you do and the thousands of people you help with your sound and level-headed advice. I will greatfully give a donation if you can help by answering my question. Which is...

Could I have contracted HIV along with Herpes? Last summer I had a holiday romance with a Greek guy. We had protected sex twice, but I still contracted herpes. I got a nasty fever, but I put that down to the Herpes-until my current partner contracted a nasty fever a few weeks after we had unprotected sex. He does not show any other signs of herpes infection, so I'm worried I'm infected with HIV and I've infected him. I can't tell him about my fears as I dont want to alarm him. I'm afraid to have and HIV test as I dont think I could cope with a positive result. I suffer from extreme and sometimes suicidal bouts of depression, and I feel like I am betraying my partner, whom I love more than anything: why am I such a coward? Please help. Many thanks to you for all the support you offer individuals in turmoil. Yours sincerely, Worried, well?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello "Worried Well?"

If your romance with Zorba the Greek was protected, your HIV risk should be nonexistent, assuming a latex condom was used properly and did not fail. HIV cannot pass through intact latex. No way. No how.

Herpes is much easier to contract than HIV. It can be spread by simple skin-to-skin contact. HIV cannot.

Do I think you are HIV infected and passed it on to your current partner? No, I do not. However, I do believe you have a significant medical problem depression and anxiety. You diagnosed it yourself when you wrote: "I suffer from extreme and sometimes suicidal bouts of depression and I feel like I am betraying my partner." I urge you to seek the help of a psychiatrist to address this problem without delay. If you love your partner and value your relationship, you need help in confronting these issues.

I also question your logic in having unprotected sex with anyone while being too afraid to ever get an HIV test, because you feel you could never cope with a positive result! Ultimately I urge you to level with your partner. Strong relationships are built on trust and honesty and on confronting problems together. Having secrets and feelings that you are betraying your mate dose not bode well for a lasting and successful union!

Good luck!

Dr. Bob



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