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Paranoid Brother
Oct 28, 2008

Dr. Frascino: Please forgive me. I know I am a coward. I do not know why I cannot face this situation w/ strength and courage. I donated and emailed you recently and you told me "Relax, Max..." But I can't. I know I need to get tested. Started dating a girl I like, cannot be trivial w/ her health. She works in medicine. I'm hoping she might understand, maybe before we start having sex, she can go get w/ me get my test results, but that's a lot to put on someone else... I haven't been tested in about 2 years. I have, however, tested for the other STDs 4 times since then. All negative. I've tested for that stuff b/c of symptoms: about a year and a half ago, persistent dryness for a few weeks (2-4, can't remember) on my penis. I lotioned it,it eventually went away. Yr. and a half ago, intense abdominal pain after urinationfor 2-3 days. Went to Dr.: He ran a bunch of tests (STD tests, no HIV test), everything came back clean. He said I might be dehydrated. Drank more water, problem went away. Was single and depressed. was getting head (always protected) from a number of prostitutes. Didn't think HIV could pass this way. Trying to be safe. 10 months ago: got carried away: unprotexted oral w/ pros' for about a minute before regaining sanity. A month later: dryness on penis,redness on penis. Possible single swollen lymph node on inner right thigh. Dryness, redness ended after a couple weeks. Swollen thing on thigh went after 3-4 days. Took two STD tests for all STDs. All negative. Doctors told me very unlikely I had HIV. Over summer, had protected intercourse w/ prostitute for about 5 minutes. About 2 months later, abdominal pain, not very severe, went away from drinking water, but I'm paranoid. Also, possible swollen node on inner left thigh (went away after 2 days). Mild but chronic sore throat for a while now. Got another STD test: all neg. Trying to get courage to take the big test but scared as fuck... Please advise. My current dr. is at a campus facility. I feel uncomfortable, w/out privacy there.I know I'm cowardly scum. But I've donated to you and can again, as well as to Obama campaign multiple times. Please advise.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

"Cowardly scum"??? Aren't you being a bit hard on yourself? Take a read through the archives and you'll find gazillions of folks so terrified of getting an HIV test that they are literally paralyzed by their fears. HIV/AIDS, because of all the stigma, misinformation, hysteria and discrimination that have been so prevalent since the early days of the epidemic continues to be misunderstood and extremely frightening to many people. Like most irrational fears, once more is learned about the facts, the fears melt away. Often counseling can help people with irrational fears and phobias, such as fear of heights, fear of snakes, fear of flying, fear of Republicans, fear of HIV, or fear of whatever. (The only thing truly scary in that list is, of course, Republicans!)

So, multiple doctors have told you HIV is "very unlikely" and I told you to "relax Max, HIV is not your problem." Consequently, the only one who is still worried about HIV is you. Since you don't feel comfortable with the doctor on campus, why not go to a testing site elsewhere, such as an STD clinic, city health department or private physician's office. If you really can't overcome your testing fears, I'd suggest you get counseling to help you confront and conquer your unwarranted worries and anxiety first and then go get the test. The results will undoubtedly be negative. Your WOO-HOO is waiting for you. The next step is yours. I'm confident you'll soon take that step.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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