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Worried and Scared
Apr 18, 2008

My Bio-Psych teacher showed our lecture class this website for she is very big into HIV awareness. She told us to look around after an hour and fifteen minutes of making us all we have HIV. Most people don't, but I am concerened. I am promiscuous college student who has random, drunken hookeups, and I can't tell you if there were condoms involved or not. I can say none of the guys were drug users, none of them gay, and all were my friends (no strangers or random locals). During the winter I came down with mono like symptoms and although strep and the flu was going around campus, health services told me it was neither and when I had blood taken, it wasn't mono either. My throat bothers me a lot, but I normally take an alavert and two motrin in the morning and it goes away because I always just thought it was allergies (and we're right by the housatonic river so there are a lot of pollutants in the air). None of the boys that I have slept with developed any mono or flu like symptoms and I am assuming since I definately would have contracted it here, I would have definately passed it on to someone here. I am going to a blood drive soon because I always donate blood and I know they have to check for HIV and inform you, but should I be worried?

-stupid college student

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello College Student,

I'll make a few brief points:

1. Kudos to your bio-psych teacher for her HIV/AIDS awareness efforts. Please send her my very best personal regards.

2. Unprotected sex places you at risk for STDs, including HIV. It also places you at risk for unwanted pregnancy. It's unfortunate it's taken a bio-psych teacher to alert you to your risk behavior. HIV/AIDS has been around for over a quarter of a century. Half of all new HIV infections in the U.S. occur in young adults aged 13-24! That your hookups are friends does not protect you from STDs, HIV or pregnancy. Only a condom (latex or polyurethane) can do that!

3. Symptoms, no matter what they may be, are notoriously unreliable in predicting who is and is not HIV infected. The reason to be concerned and to get HIV tested is having placed yourself at risk for HIV infection, not whether or not you have symptoms.

4. If you are at all concerned you may be HIV infected, do not go to the blood drive! Blood donation centers are not HIV diagnosis centers! The tests they use to screen blood are designed to protect the blood supply, not diagnose HIV disease. Consequently the sensitivity standards are set very high (resulting in a number of false-positive test results). You need to go to your doctor, an HIV testing center or the student health service and request an HIV test. Using a blood donation center for HIV screening would be unconscionable, as it could potentially put many people at risk! Don't do it!

5. Should you be worried? If you've had unprotected sex you have reason to be concerned, but you should not be excessively worried. The vast majority of episodes of unprotected sex do not lead to HIV infection. However, you do need to be tested three months or more from your last potential exposure to be certain you are HIV negative. You also need to take this experience as a very loud wakeup call. Unsafe sex is not worth the risk. The consequences could be catastrophic. I have been HIV positive since 1991. I can tell you from personal experience that living life as a "virally enhanced" individual is extremely challenging. Continue to peruse the wealth of information on this Web site, in its archives and on its related links. Continue to discuss what you learn here with your friends, hookups and family. You just may save a life!

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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