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hiv test and alchohol
Aug 29, 2007

Dr. Bob Thank You for being such an inspiration, I would have done something horrible if I did not find your posts. Six weeks ago, I had an encounter with an escort, I am certain she reused the condom from another patron. I was so depressed and drunk I did not care. I have never done anything like this before and I would like to think that I would never do it again. I was tested for stds and hiv three days after exposure all tests came back negative. I had pain in my groin for a couple of months prior to the incident and the doctor prescribed me cipro for 10 days. I have been a complete train wreck ever since this incident. At four weeks my left groin started burning if I sat too long, then the back of my knees started hurting, then the rest of my groin hurt. For a couple of days I felt like I was burning up my feet and face especially. The symptoms would usually occur during the day but not the morning. I never had a fever. Now with exception of the groin pain they seem to be subsiding. I can't sleep, I am drinking 6-12 beers a night and racing through packs of cigarettes. I got tested at 38 days, the test came back negative. I am going to follow your testing guidelines for 3 and six months, but I am wondering if consuming this much alchohol will make it take longer for hiv to show up on the tests? Also I know what I did was stupid but how much danger did I put myself in? How long can hiv live in a condom? Additionally everyone at the office found out I had an HIV test because HR divulged the information. A month later they said I tested positive. Is there some way they can spped up the cycle in the lab to find out if I will develop HIV? I know it sounds crazy but my boss is a psychopath, and has been saying within earshot that I have it, or he's positive. I tested negative at five weeks three days, the mass hiv hotline says I have nothing to worry about but I am worried to the point of wondering whether or not it makes sense to go on?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

You do have a problem! I strongly doubt it's HIV, but you definitely do have a problem that requires immediate attention!

First of all, escorts don't reuse condoms! Have you ever tried to reuse one of those things? It's damn near impossible! She may well have unrolled a fresh one for your wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am. If the condom did not break and was used properly, your HIV risk would be essentially nonexistent. Your 38-day negative test is extremely encouraging, but not definitive. You'll need a test at the three-month mark for a conclusive result.

So where is your problem? Well, you clearly delineated it in your comments when you wrote: "I've been a complete train wreck ever since this incident . . . . I can't sleep, I'm drinking 6-12 beers a night and racing through packs of cigarettes . . . . I'm worried to the point of wondering whether or not it makes sense to go on . . . ." You need the help of a psychiatrist. Your level of anxiety, despair, depression and guilt is way out of proportion to any real degree of HIV risk. I urge you to stop abusing alcohol (that's how you got into this predicament in the first place!) and also to quit smoking. Cigarettes will indeed kill you in a very painful and undignified way. Your problems at work may well be related to the fact you are behaving like a hung-over, depressed, anxious lunatic. You need help! Talk to your psychiatrist about your fears that HR divulged confidential information (it is illegal to do so!) and that your boss is a psychopath spreading vicious rumors and lies about your HIV status. You have legal recourse, if this is indeed true.

Finally, regarding your question about alcohol affecting HIV test results, no, it does not. However, that shouldn't even be an issue, because you're going to stop abusing booze, right? I think it would be a good idea to take a copy of your question and my response to your first visit with the psychiatrist and discuss it with him. It will help focus your treatment.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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