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Please answer me ...
Jul 18, 2008

Hi Dr Franscino ;

I know that you are extremely busy and am sorry to waste your valuable time with what I have been told is irrational worry but I really need your expert, highly valued, opinion on where I stand.

I will try and keep this short so won't give you any background information except to say that I have always had an extreme fear of HIV which has led me to undergo a number of unnecessary HIV tests in the past.

I live in South Africa where HIV is constantly in the news, which, while good only fuels my overboard anxieties.

My latest fear is being fuelled by the fact that my wife is having a really tough time with morning sickness (she is 8 weeks pregnant) and I cannot imagine the horror if it was somehow related to my 'exposure'.

My 'exposure' was in fact getting tested at a rapid testing clinic ... Already sounds ludicrous doesn't it ?. The result was negative but I never needed the test in the first place since I knew I was negative from previous tests of both me and my wife. Only my irrational mind compelled me to test and now I fear that I have jeopardized my families future because of my obession with HIV and the 'exposure'.

Once I had taken the test, the same afternoon, first I questioned its accuracy vs Elisa tests, then my mind screamed at me that the lady doing the test wanted to infect me ... I even called the test centre and was assured by the tester that everything was done as it should be (new lancet etc) and I was 100% fine. Then because I did not put a band aid on my finger, where the lancet punctured my skin, and my finger was bleeding until I left the clinic, I keep thinking that this was a risk for hiv exposure either at the clinic or later when I was at the shops.

Since then, almost 8 weeks ago, I have not been able to let go of this fear and have even found myself constantly checking my lymph nodes in my neck and armpits (they seem normal) and have woken up a couple of times at night sweating. I have never sweated at night before. Granted I have been having horrible thoughts and nightmares, and anxiety seems to be most likely cause, but this is all making me petrified.

I have posted my questions to various health sites and all the replies have been that there was never any risk whatsoever but I would greatly appreciate your advice since I have the utmost respect for you.

Can I totally let go of this fear related to the test ?. In your experts opinion was there absolutely no risk whatsoever, despite my sweating at night (is this anxiety related) ?.

In your opinion, is it time I seek help for this anxiety disorder if I can't let this go?.

My wife is pregnant and needs me more than ever now and I really need to be there for her but can't let go of the horror, if by me testing, I put her at risk.

I appreciate your time and effort. You have no idea of the profound positive effect you are having on peoples lives around the globe through your dedication and efforts.

Thanks again.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

I'll keep this short and simple.

First of all, my name is Frascino, not Franscino. But you can call me Dr. Bob

You state: "My 'exposure' was in fact getting tested at a rapid testing clinic . . . Already sounds ludicrous doesn't' it?" Yep! I absolutely agree!

You also report: "I have posted my questions to various health sites and all the replies have been that there was never any risk whatsoever . . . ." Once again, I absolutely agree.

In addition, you state: "Once I had taken the test, the same afternoon, first I questioned the accuracy versus ELISA tests, then my mind screamed at me that the lady doing the test wanted to infect me . . . ." Hmm . . . irrational fears, unnecessary tests, paranoid thoughts and a screaming mind??? Dude, that's a whole lotta crazy goin' on!

Finally, to your quintessential question: "In your opinion, is it time I seek help for this anxiety disorder . . . ." Actually, I would advise it's well past time. My strong advice is that you go to a psychiatrist before they come for you with a straight jacket and padded wagon.

The bottom line is HIV is not your problem. No way. No how. However, even though HIV is not your problem, you still do have a significant medical problem, anxiety, which warrants prompt attention.

Dr. Bob



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