Worried dad needs Dr. Bob's WOOHOO Karma
Jun 25, 2008
Hi Dr. Bob,
I have been a nervous wreck for over 2 months now, waiting for the window period to pass so that I can test for HIV. The 3-month window since my last potential exposure elapsed about 2 weeks ago and I am still having trouble gathering the courage to test. It is not the fear of the disease that deters me as much as the fear of everything I will lose if I test positive. Still, I know that I have to do it.
I think that maybe if you could put some perspective on the risks that I took, it might help me get the strength to follow through with testing. The specifics of my situation are this: 5 oral receptive with ejaculation and swallowing of semen encounters with 3 men of unknown HIV status since April 2006. I have stayed in contact with all 3 men, and they have all assured me that they have been tested and/or are HIV negative. I tried to limit my risk by choosing men who were married w/children and who were also very cautious. Despite their assurances, I have worries about all 3 men though. One, who is 61 years old, was out of contact for about 8 months. He says it was because of a heart condition and that he tests every six months for STDs and HIV. I have not had physical contact with him since November 2006. Another is a 50+ widower with grown children who claims he was tested in February 2008 with negative results. My last encounter with him was in January 2008. The third was a one-time encounter on February 25, 2008. He has since stated that he is HIV negative and that he only participates in oral insertive. If all three claim to be disease-free, why I am still so afraid? Are my fears at all warranted?
If one of the three were undergoing seroconversion at the time of my contact with them, how significantly does that increase my risk of acquisition?
I've not really had any symptoms of ARS, and had felt safe for the most part. However, shortly after my father passed away in February 2008, I awoke in the middle of the night suddenly terrified that I might have HIV. As my father died fairly young, do you think my sudden fear might be related to that loss?
I do know that anxiety since that night has produced many symptoms as I have researched HIV. Some of them resembled what I had read of ARS and some were wholly outside the the that list. Some were symptoms that an advanced HIV patient could expect to see. All passed once I was able to calm myself.
Dr. Bob, I really need your WOOHOO karma. I know I have to test. It is the only way to put my mind at ease. I also know that a few minutes of fun is not worth this hell of wondering about infection. Since I am in a relationship with a wonderful woman, my only choice from here on out is abstaining from MSM contacts. Thank you, Dr. Bob. You are truly a good man doing great work.
Response from Dr. Frascino
Your overall HIV-acquisition risk is quite low. Oral sex carries only a very low risk for HIV transmission/acquisition. Take a read through the chapters "Oral Sex" and "HIV Sexual Transmission" in the archives of this forum. You should find the information there encouraging.
There is no doubt you have a strong psychological component to your current situation, as evidenced by the fact you developed while researching HIV many HIV-like symptoms, which all magically evaporated once you calmed yourself down. Could this be related to your father's passing? Yes, it's possible. It's also possible you are harboring some guilt feelings resulting from your MSM activities. And also, there may even be unresolved sexual orientation issues.
I'll gladly send my good-luck karma and I'm quite confident your definitive three-month test will be negative. However, I would also strongly advise that in addition to testing you get psychological counseling to explore issues around your father's death, irrational HIV fears, MSM issues and sexual orientation.
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