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Am I at risk?
Dec 24, 2008

Dear Dr Bob,

First of all, let me kindly thank you for all good work you are doing and tell you what wonderful and kind person you are. I've been looking through your forum for the last 3 weeks and was so impressed with your kindness and humanity that I have recently made a donation to you foundation (VeriSign XXXXXXXXXXXX). I am wondering if you can answer my question which may sound silly but fear in my mind is so real that I cant stand it anymore. I am married man with wonderful son and not involved in any risk behavior but sometimes I get really scared of being infected with HIV though non-sexual exposure. 3 weeks ago, after the recent scare (thought I got infected in doctors office) I went for anonymous HIV testing and took rapid HIV test what came back negative. What is killing me now is that, the guy who was running the test (I believe his is HIV+) congratulated me and firmly shacked my hand. I do know what you cant HIV from handshake but 15 minutes later I realized that I had a small abrasion on my hand that was 2 hours old. It was not bleeding (dont think it ever bled) but it did have small red dots the size on the pin heads inside. I dont believe that the guy was bleeding while shaking my hand but I obviously didnt look at his hands very closely. I did check my hand 15 minutes later and saw no his blood anywhere but what if I just wiped it out while putting my hand in my pocket and out before I looked. 1 day later I got full blown panic attack, couldnt sleep, eat or work. I went to my physician who told me that I have a big imagination and said that I went to the testing medical facility and not to the Dracula caste with monsters with bleeding hands, plus given amount of blood required to infect me there is no way I wouldnt feel or notice that he was bleeding while shacking my hand. He also told me to stop testing as it only makes it worse. I was put on Celexa, Xanax and Ambien, but my fear is not going away. Since my physician is not HIV specialist, I always thinking about possibility that I got infected, my wife cant take it anymore, my friends trying to comfort me but my life is miserable and I think about this 24 hours a day. I feel that only you doctor can tell me the truth and I can trust only your judgment. I promised my family and friends to try to get back to be normal only if Dr Frascino tells me that I am OK. Please doctor could you please me the truth. Am I at risk? Have you heard about transmission happening this was should I test again?

PS I wish you and Doctor Steven wonderful holidays, marry Christmas and happy New Year and will donate more next year as I really think you are the most philanthropic and human loving person out there. If I am ever in Sun Francisco, can I buy you and doctor Steven a lunch?

Guy from North-East

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi Guy from North-East,

Thank you for your kind comments, holiday wishes and donation to the Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation (www.concertedeffort.org). All are warmly appreciated.

Regarding your HIV risk, it's completely nonexistent. If HIV really were transmitted that easily, it would have wiped out the planet long ago. HIV is not your problem. No way. No how. However, you do have a significant medical problem that requires attention: irrational fear of becoming HIV infected. This type of HIV-phobia is not uncommon. Just take a read through the archives and you'll find many testimonials with unwarranted HIV fears similar to yours. I strongly recommend you seek psychological/psychiatric counseling to help you confront and eventually conquer these fears. Your fears are already affecting your friends and family and causing you to get completely unwarranted HIV tests, which in turn have lead to more worry. This is a vicious circle, which can get progressively worse over time. It's not that your imagination is oversized; it's that you are unable to think rationally about this specific issue. Some folks are abnormally fearful of spiders or snakes or flying or heights, etc. You are abnormally fearful of HIV/AIDS. Counseling can be very effective in treating any type of phobia, that of HIV included. Give it a try, OK?

Happy Holidays to you and your family. Be well. Stay well. Nol!

Dr. Bob



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