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PLEASE READ DOC, I'M A 19-YEAR-OLD NERVOUS WRECK
Jun 18, 2008

Hi Doc,

I'm a 19 year old male. When I was on holiday, due to a lot of alcohol and peer pressure, I slept with two (female) prostitutes in a strip club/brothel. Both encounters were protected with a condom. Ive never done anything like that before, and I was really pressured into it (one of the guys I was with actually paid 150 euros for me to go into the back room with one of the girls). Im not making excuses for what I did, but Im just trying to highlight that Im not normally that kind of person.

A week after I got back home, I felt ashamed and guilty, and also had a strange sensation in my bladder. I went and got an STD test and was told there was puss in my urine, which could be due to a lot of alcohol, or a lot of sex/masturbation, or an STD. I was given four tablets which would clear up my symptoms regardless of what was causing them.

A few weeks later it was confirmed that all my STD tests (including HIV) came back negative. So I guess the puss was there due to a week of drinking.

But then after that I had a sore head for about a week. It may be worth noting that I used a sun bed on several occasions over one week without goggles on, which may have caused eyestrain/damage, resulting in a sore head (that's what the optician said). The sore head seems to be gone now. But I've now got a very loose-sounding bad cough. I've been a smoker for about a year now, but this cough has only developed in the last week.

I've been very worried about HIV, because I know a cough and sore head can be a symptom. I phoned a healthcare advisor who said I am very low risk for HIV, because the sex was protected and I didn't pick up any other STDs. She said I should get an HIV test to put my mind at ease, but that's not able to be done (accurately) for another month.

I'm out of my mind with worry. My main concern is that I have a girlfriend, who I'm ashamed to say I cheated on (I've never cheated in the last three years Ive been with her). She hasn't mentioned anything amiss, although I have noticed she has a bit of an infrequent dry cough lately. Neither of us have any of the other symptoms.

So aside from my own health, I'm definitely more worried about her well-being. Its putting strain on our relationship, because she has no idea what Ive done or whats racing through my head, and she cant understand why I seem so distant lately.

I know an HIV test is the only way to know for sure, which I'm going to get.

But until then, would your opinion be that I am indeed 'low risk' and guilt is making me worry about every little headache or cough? I dont have anyone to talk to about this because what I did was so shameful.

Any words of wisdom would be very much appreciated, doc. This whole thing has really opened my eyes to the world of HIV/AIDS, and I plan to be more active with donations and support. Theres so much I didnt know about the virus, and so much I presumed.

Thank you for your time.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Words of wisdom? OK, here's what I suggest:

1. Level with your girlfriend. It's not only the best way to confront your guilt; it's also the right thing to do. You could then decide together to use condoms to not only decrease the risk of STDs, including HIV, but also to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

2. Stop smoking. If you don't, cigarettes will kill you in a very horrific and undignified fashion.

3. Avoid the "electric beach" (tanning bed). It's bad for your skin (causes premature aging and wrinkles) and increases your risk for skin cancers.

4. Don't succumb to peer pressure to do things you don't feel comfortable doing.

5. Your HIV-acquisition risk would indeed be low if you used latex condoms properly and they did not fail (break).

6. I strongly support your efforts to become better informed about HIV/AIDS and to become more involved in HIV awareness and prevention campaigns. BRAVO.

Good luck with your upcoming HIV tests.

Dr. Bob



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