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Almost 20 Years of Life in Hell
Jan 11, 2009

Dear Dr. Frascino,

In 1990, I engaged in three acts of unprotected vaginal intercourse with a man whose HIV status was unknown to me. I have no excuse for this reckless behavior except to say that I had just been divorced from a man who had robbed me of all my self-esteem and I felt grateful than any man wanted anything to do with me. However, this experience was very damaging in that this new man refused to communicate with me after several months and later I discovered that he had stolen jewelry and money from me during our brief relationship. I tried to block out this whole painful episode and go on with my life. Unfortunately, I did not confront the issue of possible infection. For ten years, I concentrated on my career and I had no other sexual encounters. Unlike many of the "worried well" on this site, I never experienced any symptoms and was able to go on with a fairly normal life. After twelve years had passed, I decided I probably was not infected because I would be sick by now - scary logic to be sure. I has no idea that long term non-progressors existed.

Anyway, I met a nice man and we got married a couple of years ago. He assumed that I was disease free because I had not had any sexual partners for more than ten years. I know he was negative because he was a blood donor and was thus screened. My problem is that the company that my husband works for is sending us to a country where we need HIV test in order to move there. Now, I have become almost unhinged, feeling like this almost 20 year old mistake is going to finally catch up with me. I have no one I can talk to about this - a dark secret carried so long tends to grow out of proportion. I am also experiencing terrible guilt about the posiblity of having infected a completely innocent person. Please help me. What is the likelihood that I could have been infected so long ago and still be healthy? How am I ever going to come clean about my fears? I understand that you receive hundreds of emails, but I really hope that you address mine. I think I have lived in "hell" longer than any other person who has posted on this site.

Thank you for your time, Middle Aged Crazy

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Middle-Aged Crazy,

". . . A dark secret carried so long tends to grow out of proportion." I absolutely agree. My advice is to confront this "grown out of proportion" problem head-on with honesty. Your chances of being HIV infected are essentially nonexistent. Level with your husband about your fears. Show him this post if it will help. You can then get a rapid HIV test. I'm confident the result will be negative. Within twenty minutes you will yell WOO-HOO and immediately start feeling like a complete nitwit for carrying a "dark secret" for so long, which, in reality, was nothing more than an unwarranted, irrational fear!

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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