Symptoms...What REALLY is causing them!?
Jul 30, 2008
Hi Dr. Bob!
Yet again, I am emailing you with a question of mine. I'm not sure if this has been answered but if it has, I understand if it isn't answered a second time! :)
As I wrote to you only a few days ago, my car was touched by a naked man running in the streets and I was worried, really worried, that I was at risk for HIV. Your reassurance has very much calmed my nerves, even though I do still panic from time to time.
Anywho, I am writing to ask you your opinion on this: Do you think the anxiety/stress of having HIV can cause the acute HIV symptoms? More specifically, if you are looking for these exact symptoms to appear and telling yourself not to worry unless they do (as I was) - do you feel that can cause them to actually appear?
When I first started to worry about having HIV, all I had was a minor sore throat, not severe but irritating. I felt tired and a little achy, but again, nothing extreme. Then I turned to the internet, where I saw list after list of the possible early symptoms including fever, rash, headaches, diarrhea, etc. and I kept telling myself "I won't worry unless I get this, I won't worry unless I get that." And what happened? I got those symptoms. And the symptoms I started out with only got worse - convincing me I had HIV. I got bloodwork done and the doctor said that it looked like I had the "human parvovirus", but I still didn't believe it at the time. Had to be something else, I thought.
After your responses to my concerns though, I am telling myself this was all caused by stress and once it has been 3 months since "exposure", I will *hopefully* know that for sure. Just wanted to get your input on this though since everyone around me has been telling me "It's all stress!"
Sidenote: You're the best.
Response from Dr. Frascino
Yes, stress and anxiety can produce a wide range of "symptoms." We often refer to these symptoms as psychosomatic. They can indeed be very real. Check out the chapter in the archives entitled "Symptoms" and you'll see what I mean.
Thank you! A response from you made my day! Jul 26, 2008
Hi again, Dr. Bob! It's me, the girl who's car was touched by a naked man running in the streets. (By the way, this occurred in a small town on the Eastern Shore of MD - hopefully only a one time occurrence!) I wanted to thank you (so much) for your quick response though. It really helped to put my mind at ease; more than any other doctor's reassurance up to this point. To ease my mind completely, I will most likely get another test at the 3 month point. Until then though, I am just going to keep remembering what you wrote - there's no chance.
You are the best and I wish nothing but the best for you! I will also be making a donation to your wonderful cause.
Response from Dr. Frascino
Thanks for your thanks and your kind donation to the Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation (www.concertedeffort.org). Helping others in desperate need is also a wonderful way to rack up excellent cosmic karma!
Be well. Stay well. (Yes, indeed, you are undeniably well!)
CRAZY story, leading to a crazy-stressed out me! Help! Jul 25, 2008
Hi Dr. Bob! I think you are great. Your answers have not only helped me relax, but have also made me laugh more than I have for a while!
About 3 months ago, an incident occured that has really scared me. I was driving on a main road when I saw a naked man running around in the street. He ran in front of my car, hit my hood (with his hands), and then approached my door. He fiddled with the door handle, but never made eye contact with me, which made it seem as though his intent wasn't too hurt me - but he was maybe drunk or on drugs or just out of it. I drove away as fast as I could and as I did so, he grabbed my mirror. About 5 - 10 minutes later (no less than 5, no more than 10), I got to where I was going. However, when I got out of my car, I failed to look at my door - I just hurried out of my car since I was already late for where I needed to be. About two hours later, I got back into my car, again, not noticing anything on my door. I continued on with my day as usual. However, the next day, I started to PANIC that I touched a part of the door where he may have touched (and may have possibly had a fluid on his hands or maybe a small cut of some sort) and that I bit my nails (nervous habit that I have) or rubbed my eyes (due to allergies) afterwards. I continued to panic for about the next week or so and then developed many of the "acute symptoms", including a low grade fever (never higher than 99.6-ish), sore throat, and fatigue. About 3 weeks after this occurred, I got an HIV test (antibody) to ease my mind. It was negative, but then I was concerned that I got it done way too soon for it to be accurate. Then, about 5 and a half weeks after possible exposure, I got another HIV test done, but this was a PCR RNA test. It said the virus was "Not Detected" ( < 48 copies/mL). What is your input on my risk of being infected? I still am so worried. If there was fluid on his hands that he touched my door with, I do not feel that it would have been a large amount of fluid - otherwise, I hope I would have noticed this, even after it was dry and even days later. However, part of my door is black, so who knows if I would have noticed that! But, do you think 5 - 10 minutes would have been enough time for a small amount of fluid to dry enough for the virus to die? I really hope to hear from you.
Response from Dr. Frascino
Relax! Your HIV-acquisition risk is completely and absolutely nonexistent. If HIV were contracted that easily, it would have wiped out the entire planet many years ago. HIV testing is not warranted. Your HIV tests to date are not unexpectedly negative.
Now I have a question for you: Exactly where is this neighborhood where naked men run through the streets? I'm sure many of our readers would like to know, as they plan their next Sunday afternoon drive.
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