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why the sarcasm?
Jun 30, 2008

I was reading a question from one of your readers about stepping in a pool of blood. This person possible has anxiety issues and phobias, which have nothing to do with whether the person is intelligent or reasonable. However you seem to poke fun of this person for making such claims of oneself. That seems a bit unfair. Mental problems are a illness just as HIV/AIDS is an illness and I highly doubt that HIV/AIDS infected patients would appreciate being ridiculed for their illness. I just hope that the person who asked this question is able to let your sarcasm role of his/her back.

Maybe you should inform yourself about people suffering from mental illness. Phobias, although have no reason or logic to them, those who suffer from phobias feel that their phobia is a very real fear. It is mental torment on them. I found that you were a bit unfeeling with your response. Thank you.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Let me take a wild guess here. You too have "anxiety issues and phobias," right? Yeah, I thought so. While I won't deny that I do enjoy a touch of sarcasm from time to time, I do try to use it judiciously and certainly not in a meanspirited manner (except perhaps if I'm referencing dimwitted Dubya or the Dark Lord of Halliburton, Cheney, in which case all bets are off). I sincerely believe that if you take some time to read through the archives, you'll find that I actually know a great deal about mental illness, phobias, irrational fears and their appropriate treatment. The question you refer to in your post was not merely a person worried about "stepping in a pool of blood." That would indeed be an irrational fear and perhaps even rise to the level of phobia. That, however, was not the crux of this gentleman's worry. Rather, he was concerned that traces of blood could be tracked into his home and subsequently another member of the family might walk near his shoes and then stand in the shower and then drop the soap on the shower floor and then use the now-contaminated soap to wash "ahem, other body parts," thereby causing them to become HIV infected. Sorry honey, that's not your average HIV fear. In fact it leapfrogs right over phobia and smack into the realm of the truly wacky. Please note this gentleman referred to himself as "reasonable and well-educated." I informed him he was not "well-educated" about HIV, nor was he reasonable in terms of his farfetched fantasy. To concoct such a wacked-out theory, the guy has to be more anxious than James Dobson in a gay bathhouse.

I stand by my comments (and my sarcasm). I'll reprint the post below for you and our readers to have another look. Also, please note the purpose of this forum is to broadly educate the public about HIV. Using sarcasm, irony and humor can be very effective tools in the education process. So lighten up a bit, OK?

Dr. Bob

Contact with fresh blood Jun 17, 2008

Dear Bob,

I searched the archives for a similar question but did not find one so, here goes. I've never been overly concerned about HIV, however, a month ago I was walking through the mall and I stepped in a small pool of fresh blood as I entered a store. There were a couple of police officers questioning some "dirty looking" guy who was bandaged up, so I know the blood was fresh. There was some white powder strewn on some, but not all, of the blood. Since this event, I've been having a very difficult time going on with my life. I'm thinking about it excessively and its effecting my life immensely. I've always considered myself a reasonable and well-educated individual, but the thought of being at risk of contracting HIV is overpowering my reason. If this individual was HIV positive and traces of his blood were tracked into my home, what, if any, risk would my family or myself be at? One example of my concern would be as follows: Traces of blood could be on the floor near my shoes, someone walks near the shoes, subsequently stands in the shower, drops the soap on the shower floor, then proceeds to use soap on face and, ahem, other body parts. Is there any risk here, or am I as paranoid as I think I am. Or what if I were to tie my shoes and then rub my eye? Please advise so that I can continue on with my life. And thank you so much for your time.

Brew

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Brew,

Let me get this straight. You've always considered yourself a reasonable and well-educated individual. OK, if you say so. However, you've "never been overly concerned about HIV." Hmm . . . Brew, maybe you better reconsider those "reasonable and well-educated" adjectives, eh?

OK, so you are "having a very difficult time going on with (your) life," because you are "thinking about it excessively and its (sic) 'effecting' (sic) (your) life immensely." ". . . The thought of being at risk of contracting HIV is overpowering (your) reason." Well, Brew, no doubt the HIV pandemic can indeed be worrisome. It's the greatest infectious disease catastrophe of our time and our collective response to the worldwide tragedy has been abysmal. Our HIV awareness and prevention programs here in the U.S. have likewise been woefully inadequate (as your post so graphically demonstrates). So, Brew, let's examine the facts surrounding your situation and evaluate your HIV-acquisition risk, OK?

Now let's see, you were strolling through the mall and stepped in a small pool of fresh blood from a "dirty looking" guy being questioned by the police. You then freaked out, because you wondered if "dirty-looking guy" might be HIV positive and tainted blood could be tracked into your home and if traces of the blood could be on the floor near your shoes and then a family member could walk near your shoes and subsequently stand in the shower and then drop the soap on the shower floor and then use the now tainted soap on their face and "ahem, other body parts." Once again, Brew, I've got to wonder about that "reasonable and well-educated individual" description.

Brew, your HIV-acquisition risk is completely nonexistent, as apparently is your general knowledge about HIV transmission. I would strongly recommend you spend some time becoming "well-educated" about HIV/AIDS, particularly exactly how HIV is and is not transmitted. There is a wealth of information about that topic on this Web site, in its archives and on the related links. Once you've had a chance to digest that information, I have absolutely no doubt your fears will evaporate and will indeed become a more "reasonable" individual.

Be well Brew. Stop worrying and get informed!

Dr. Bob



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