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On the verge of a breakdown...
Mar 17, 2008

Dear Dr. Bob,

First of all, just from reading your responses in this forum my mind has been put at ease many times. I really feel like this is a silly question and I know you have answered it before but I know I would feel so much better if you gave me an answer for my specific situation. I will happily send a donation! I promise :) After going through a really difficult sexual assault experience I became worried about STDs and HIV and went to the infectious disease clinic in a well reputable hospital in the city in which I live. I was so extremely stressed during the testing because of having to talk about the assault with the Dr.s that I was in tears throughout the entire thing. I have been diagnosed with OCD and am constantly stressed about my health as well so that probably added to my anxiety at the time. Well, no sooner than I received the negative results on the HIV (this was 5 months after the assault), hepatitis and Syphillis tests than did I begin to worry that maybe a new needle wasn't used and I was infected with HIV or hepatitis that way. Has infection EVER happened this way? Also, I have had more colds that usual this season (3) and that has been stressing me out. Lastly, I noticed that I can feel a lymph node on each side of my groin that is pea sized... well, I thought this was normal but then I read that you shouldn't be able to feel lymph nodes at all. I really need to stop googling :/ If you could answer my question I would be so extremely grateful and would gladly send a $50 donation. I have been worrying for the last 3 months and really need someone to knock some sense into me so I can get back to enjoying my life. I am already speaking with a psychologist regarding the assault experience. What do you think about all of this? Should I have the lymph nodes checked out or have another HIV test performed?

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I wish you well... you are an amazing person.

~The biggest worrier ever

p.s. I saw that you referred to this as "the question that never dies" in a previous post... about how many people have asked you this? :)

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello "Biggest Worrier Ever,"

Let me start with your last question first to help you put your fears into perspective. How many times have I been asked by a "worried well" who after a period of stress finally tested HIV negative but then immediately began worrying again that maybe a new needle wasn't used or there was some other issue during testing which might have resulted in HIV, hepatitis or other STD? You already have determined this is a "QTND" (question that never dies). So by definition that means I've been asked this question more than the number of times Dubya has mispronounced the word "nuclear." I would estimate on any given day there are at least a dozen of these types of questions in my inbox! As with all other QTNDs, there is also a remarkably consistent "ATNC" (answer that never changes) and here it is:

1. You cannot contract HIV by getting an HIV test.

2. Needles are not reused. Period.

Turning now to your other concerns. Your pea-sized lymph nodes in the groin are most likely completely normal. One thing that's for certain: they are not related to HIV! Why? Because you don't have HIV! Having three colds this season is not an indication you have HIV. We've already definitively determined you don't!

Your problem is OCD, not HIV! HIV is not your problem. No way. No how. I'm delighted you are seeing a psychologist for the issues related to your assault. I strongly urge you to discuss your irrational and completely unwarranted HIV fears with the psychologist as well. Take a copy of your question and my response with you to your next visit and show it to your therapist, OK?

Thank you for your donation to the Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation (www.concertedeffort.org). It's warmly appreciated.

Good luck. Feel better. Stop worrying and start WOO-HOOing.

Dr. Bob



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