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Please, Help
Sep 26, 2007

Greetings:

I have made a donation so that you all may continue your good work, and because I have made substantial use of this forum over the last 5 weeks. I hope you can answer my question.

Five weeks ago I had vaginal sex with an escort. I grabbed the condom from a door put it on and used it without complication. Less than two minutes into the act, I saw the wrapper of the condom -- it was lambskin. I withdrew. I was not too nervous as I understand statistics, but last week I cam down with an extremely bad cold -- congestion, runny nose, sinus. I did not have any other symptoms. On day four a rash appeared on my back. This elevated my stress level dramatically. My doctor said it was very mild case of shingles -- less than one inch square, no pain or itch. She also thought I had pneumonia -- x-rays were negative but she put me on medication for pneumonia. She did not medicate for shingles because she said my immune system was handling it very well.

Of course, I will be tested at 3 months, but are my uncontained fears now legitimate?

Thanks.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

It is true that lambskin condoms, while protecting against unwanted pregnancy, do not protect against HIV. Consequently you have placed yourself at some degree of risk for HIV and a three-month HIV test is warranted.

"Symptoms" are notoriously unreliable in predicting who is or is not HIV infected. A quick perusal of the testimonials in the archives of this forum will prove this point.

Are your "uncontained fears now legitimate?" No, at least no more so than if you didn't have any symptoms or even if you developed every symptom in the book. My guess is that you are just a bit on the unlucky side. First you grab the wrong kind of condom and then you coincidentally get a head cold a few weeks later. The "pneumonia" turned out not to be pneumonia. The shingles was so mild that it is not at all worrisome.

Try to relax and keep things in perspective. Good luck with your definitive three-month test.

Dr. Bob



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