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Apr 23, 2008

Dear Dr. Bob, I have written to you 2 years ago when I was convinced that I was infected with HIV through a vaginal fluid contact with a fresh skin laceration on my thumb. When after a year I tested negative I couldn't thank you enough and naturally sent a donation as a gratitude gesture. And by the way thank you for the HBO film it was great! However, I did pick up a dual infection of CMV and EBV instead, which explains the symptoms and the sickness. Now however I am out of work and without insurance, and I am hoping you could advise me what to do. I do apologize because this is not an HIV-related topic. Here is my problem. I have lost a tremendous amount of muscle very fast, and in fact every tissue of my body underwent change. My hair changed in texture and have been increasingly falling out, the skin on the beds of my nails has been receding since the beginning of infection, and is still this way, my eyes are irritated most of the time, I had a bad nerve damage at the outset, with twitchings and numbness of sorts. And my gastro-intestinal system is in shambles. And I am having much weaker erections (I am 28) General doctor I went to dismissed this as a "depression." ID doctor said most folks have CMV and I should be fine, unless my immune system is undermined ( I checked it, it was fine) Gastroenterologist said there is no connection between CMV and the stomach troubles and didn't do any testing. Dr. Bob, Are there any reputable CMV or Herpes-virus-type research places in the U.S. that could help me? Run proper tests and be realistic about the virus? I know for a fact that the infection had possibly caused a significant damage to the gut, possibly "gastroenteritis or colitis" and that is what causes the damage to my internal and external organs. By the way I never took any anti-viral meds for the condition. By the time they found the viruses, it had a been a year after the infection. I will send you a donation as soon as I get a full-time job again! Thank you for everything you do.

Response from Dr. Frascino


Without the benefit of seeing your laboratory studies, reviewing your medical history and performing a physical examination, it is difficult for me to provide advice for your problem.

While I have no doubt you have immunological evidence (antibody tests) revealing past infection with CMV and EBV, I would very strongly doubt you contracted these common viruses at the time of your "vaginal fluid contact with skin laceration" episode. I would also very strongly doubt the CMV and EBV are causing the symptoms you describe. Many people will demonstrate evidence of past infection to CMV and/or EBV when screened. You have had a rather extensive workup from your general doctor, an ID specialist and gastroenterologist, all of whom do not believe either CMV or EBV is responsible for your symptoms. When multiple physicians cannot identify a physical cause for a set of nonspecific symptoms, the underlying problem is often psychosomatic. Psychosomatic illness produces very real symptoms and can cause very significant illness.

In all honesty, I do not believe you need a research institution. Rather I feel you would benefit most from psychiatric help. Perhaps it is not the multiple physician specialists that need to get "realistic about these viruses," but rather you who must do so. I have no doubt you are ill and I don't deny the validity of your symptoms. However, I don't believe your problem is virologic, but rather psychiatric. At one time you were absolutely convinced you were HIV infected. You now realize that was not the reality of the situation. I believe you are now making a similar incorrect assumption about CMV and EBV. Hopefully you will soon realize this as well.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

I'm Convinced.

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