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Please help. I have CMV, EBV, but not HIV. I think.
Aug 19, 2008

Please help, I'm begging you.

I've written to The Body once before, but I had not seen a posted response.

I am sincere in saying that any response would greatly help me to an extent that you could not imagine.

I'll try and keep this as simple as possible. I'm a 25 year old male. Through out college I had put myself at risk with different partners. Long story short, I have tested negative for HIV 5 or 6 different times (last test was 1 year after exposure). I've had the ELISA and Ora-quick antibody tests done. I could let go of this worry that consumes me, but I constantly have symptoms of what I (in the back of my mind) to be a possible HIV infection (I keep thinking group O). Starting about 3 years ago, I've had really big swollen saliva glands, big lymph nodes in my neck, armpits, groin, shin, behind my ear, chin, and near my elbow (they all swell up and go back down). I have night sweats, sores on my gums (they don't look like canker sores), headaches, sinus infections, and I'm sure I'm missing out on something. I also keep thinking that my fingers are tingling, but mabye I'm just worried. I can't help the thoughts that my time is ticking faster then usual and there is no help to stop it.

I've been tested for a whole lot of things (Sjorgen's syndrome, West Nile, Hepitus, etc (about $2,000 worth of tests). The doctor confirmed that I do have CMV and EBV. He said it was possible for the effects of the two viruses combined to look like an HIV infection. When it comes down to it, I'm questioning the doctor because this was in a very small town of a farming community. No offense to those doctors, but I'm a worrier. I'm scared half to death that I could hurt my fiancé. We are getting married soon and I love her with all my heart and would do nothing to hurt her. She gets really mad when I worry. After the tests came back HIV negative we have been having unprotected sex. I want children so badly, but I wouldn't want to hurt them either.

I would love to hear some one say that I can stop worrying about HIV and be grateful. I typically try to ignore the symptoms, but when something pops up, it consumes me to the point where I totally shut down.

I'm begging you please help me by responding. I would be forever grateful to hear from an expert in this field. Every day I feel as if I'm living a lie and I just want it to stop. I want to live and lead a healthy and happy life, but mentally this is just breaking me.

Worried in the Midwest

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Worried in the Midwest,

You are not alone. There are lots and lots of folks with similar completely unwarranted and irrational fears of being HIV infected. Just peruse the archives of this forum, it's choc-a-block full of 'em! Your multiple (and excessive) negative ELISA and OraQuick tests out to one year after exposure are definitive and conclusive. You just can't get any more negative than that. Really, you can't!

Symptoms, as I have stated many times, are notoriously unreliable in predicting who is and is not HIV infected. A negative FDA-approved HIV-antibody test taken outside the window period (first three months following primary HIV infection) trump symptoms each and every time. Should you worry about rare subtypes? No, absolutely not.

You've had a $2,000 workup and no specific cause was determined for your symptoms. Evidence of old CMV and EBV viral infections does not "look like HIV infection," even when combined. The most likely cause for your symptoms is either intercurrent illnesses, such as sinus infections, or psychosomatic illness. Because your fiancée (gets really mad when (you) worry" and because any symptom that "pops up consumes (you) to the point where (you) totally shut down" and because this constant worry is "mentally just breaking (you)," I would very strongly suggest you seek psychological help. Your problem is psychological, not virologic. Continuing to worry about having an illness, despite overwhelming and irrefutable evidence to the contrary, is indeed a significant psychological problem that requires intervention. I doubt it will resolve without counseling. Failure to address this issue for exactly what it is, a psychological problem, will risk your future health (mental and physical) and happiness (you could screw up your relationship).

OK, Worried Midwesterner, now you know what to do. The next step is up to you.

Dr. Bob



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