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Still no 'happy' in my 'happy ending massage'

Oct 29, 2007

Hi from South Africa doc,

I wrote to you 3 years ago after a cheap 'happy ending massage' gone wrong. She was supposed to give me a hand job only, but then got carried away and fingered herself, finishing me off with the same hand.

I became acutely ill 22 days after, with diarrhea, rashes, burning & flaking skin, itching, very rapid weight loss, paralyzing muscle weakness, mouth sores, brown spots on hands and feet, etc. etc.

I know that handjobs are supposed to be no risk, and I have furthermore tested negative by laboratory Elisa out to 3 years. I also had a DNA PCR done at 25 days post exposure, as well as 1 year post exposure - both negative. Judging by the low risk and testing history I should have woo hoo'd long ago, not so?

Well, here at 3 years and 4 months post exposure, I am in progressively deteriorating health. I have been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy by both my GP as well as a neurologist, and have no feeling left in my left little toe. The other toes usually ache as if held in a vice. Apart from the neuropathy, I still have loose stools and swollen salivary glands. I get all sorts of bizarre rashes on my scalp and back, and am continuously plagued by bacterial skin infections. In addition to this I keep getting sinus infections, with a dry cough that usually lingers for weeks. Regardless of amount of sleep I stay unbelievable tired, and am also always sweaty.

The most obvious diagnosis to me, given the timeline and symptoms, is HIV. Especially since all other tests have been completely normal. Is it possible that I'm dealing with a rare strain, considering she was a cheap prostitute and have probably had clients from all over Africa? Have I made myself sick with a somatization disorder, and if so, what will it take to recover? The lack of a diagnosis through 3 years has made me very skeptical.

Thanks doc, A in SA

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello A in SA,

I'll be brief, because as I have already explained to you, HIV is definitely not your problem. Your HIV risk handjob happy ending to rub-and-tug is nonexistent. Your repeatedly negative ELISA tests out to three years are definitive and conclusive. In addition, even though I do not recommend PCR testing for routine HIV screening, you have had two undetectable PCR DNAs out to one year. Do you have a rare strain? No, absolutely not.

As for your symptoms, I cannot diagnose the exact cause over the Internet. However, what I can do with great certainty is advise you what is not causing your symptoms. It's not HIV. No way. No how. Have you made yourself sick with a somatization disorder? Perhaps; it is indeed possible. If a physical cause can not be found for your symptoms, I would encourage you to explore the possibility of a psychological cause. Remember, HIV is not your problem and you must stop chasing a diagnosis you could not possibly have.

Dr. Bob

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