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Microscopic tears in skin & other ways of HIV transmission
Nov 26, 2007

Hi, Dr. Bob. I appreciate you. I was recently diagnosed as HIV positive. My current boyfriend had to undergo PEP, but he is standing by me & we are still working on the future. What is hard for me to bear is that the hospital (public health) where he received counseling & treatment scared the crap out of him. In order to stop them giving him gruesome statistics about transmission, he finally told them he would never have sex with me again. They told him he could contract HIV from kissing me, from contact with my tears, in addition to all the other obvious contacts. Also, they told him if he has microscopic tears in his skin, he could contract it that way, too. This means he can hardly touch my face, my arm, any part of my skin, let alone any private parts. Obviously, their agenda was to keep the two groups, infected & non-infected, completely away from each other. In a way, I don't blame them, but it is tearing me up, & although we love each other, he talks about sex being unlikely or impossible with each other...forever. He won't touch me except through clothing, and even that is non-sexual. He won't give me even a platonic kiss on the lips, in case saliva might be present, they made him so paranoid. There is nothing I can say to mitigate his feelings. He won't believe anything I find online about negligible risk. He only believes what they told him, & he spoke with 4 different doctors on several visits and they all gave the same speeches. I am devastated. We met together with MY doctor, who tried to mitigate some of these things, to no avail. Safer means not safe to him. I know you can't fix this for me, but if you can say anything that might make me feel better, I would appreciate it from my heart. Thank you so much.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

They told your boyfriend:

1. He could never have sex with you ever again.

2. He could contract HIV from kissing you.

3. He could contract HIV from your tears.

4. He could contract HIV from microscopic tears in his skin if he touched you.

Hmm . . . and four different doctors on several visits all told him the same thing?????? YIKES! Exactly what medical facility is your boyfriend using? The Vatican Health Center for Sexual Misinformation??? The information your boyfriend was given is blatantly false. My advice would be to contact your local AIDS service organizations and advise them of the load of twaddle your boyfriend was fed. Perhaps your local newspaper would run a story about this misguided (and malicious) misinformation campaign. As for your boyfriend, I'd suggest you continue to invite him to your doctor visits and encourage him to do his own Internet research utilizing reputable HIV information Web sites. Also attending magnetic couple support groups might help him see how other magnetic couples handle their discordant serostatus.

It's possible he's just so freaked out about your recent diagnosis and his having to take PEP that he's ready to believe any nonsense just to distance himself. Couples counseling from an HIV-knowledgeable therapist might help if he's becoming sex-phobic or irrationally fearful.

Good luck to you both.

Dr. Bob



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