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I foolishly need help once again
Feb 15, 2009

Hi Dr. Bob,

I need your help once again. You seem to be one of the few people who can help. I had protected receptive anal sex a few weeks ago. Near the end of the act, the partner hurriedly took the condom off and went in and flushed it down the toilet. This concerned me, as now I think the condom broke or something, or he ejaculated and the contents leaked out of the condom inside me, or something of that sort and he never told me about it. So, naturally, I've been worried about this since that day. This was exactly 3 weeks ago.

Since that day and up till a week ago, I've had itching all over, my wrist and finger hurt, my tongue hurt, my neck hurt and back hurt, and I've generally felt worn down. Since I worry a lot and learned some techniques to squash my fears about things, through therapy and reading, I've been able to go through and think of reasons why each of these things happened not HIV related (winter, dry air, burnt tongue from food, dehydrated, anxiety, exercising, and worry), and this had calmed my fears. That is up until about last Wednesday.

On Wednesday, like clockwork, 17 days after incident, my stomach started hurting, I had abdominal cramps, then diarrhea, I had to leave work once that day and return later because my stomach hurt so bad. Then later, I start itching all over, under my armpits, on my arm, near my waistline and on my back. I start scratching my arm, and I begin to break out in hives, down both sides of my arms, near my waistline, and near my armpits, as well as on my back and my neck turned completely red. I had trouble breathing, maybe from panic, and so I hurriedly went into the shower where cold water helped a little and popped a few pills. I felt tingling up and down my arms and legs. This caused me to go into major panic mode, as these areas that broke out are near the nodes that may swell up due to ARS (or that these were actually the nodes swelling up). Then on Thursday I felt run down, the diarrhea continued, and at night, I had a second outbreak of hives, as I started scratching all over, and it appeared red, like a rash occured along with the hives, the rash was near my wrist, on my shoulder, and near my neck. On Friday morning, I felt all flushed and started sweating all over, then thought i broke a fever around noon. Again, when I got back home, I started itching my arms and broke out in hives again in the same positions. I even felt chills during the day. Today, Saturday, everything seemed to go down, no more severe itching, or hives. My bowel movements are back to being solid, (sorry for the graphic descriptions) I feel generally run down and haven't eaten much the past few days, but I've been so depressed the past few days that I can't even muster up the strength to get out of bed, or do anything constructive.

I've been using these past several days to prepare myself to live my life with HIV, because I know something here is going on with me that I've never experienced before, and am planning on going to get a test at 6 weeks, which I know will be positive, and I am trying to prepare myself for the inevitable. What really is bugging me, is that I am transitioning a move here shortly, and starting a new position in my career at the beginning of April. I don't know now how I am going to do this with such news on my health, as I would need some time to prepare myself should what I fear comes true, and especially since I've been unable to do anything but hide in bed the past few days.

Well, again, I did not forget about your donations, I've been financially struggling the past few years, which is why I am making a career change, but I've donated $37.50, towards what I promised. I hope you can squish some of my fears, as I am not doing well emotionally today.

Thanks again, L

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Your symptoms are consistent with anxiety, not HIV acute retroviral syndrome. Worrying about being HIV positive or even convincing yourself you are HIV positive is not the same thing as actually being HIV positive. Just because your partner quickly flushed the condom down the toilet doesn't mean the condom broke. Your fears are unwarranted. I would suggest you seek help once again for your irrational fears of being HIV infected. If you remain worried, get an HIV test at the three-month mark. The odds are all in your favor that you are HIV negative. Ongoing counseling may well be necessary for you to overcome your unwarranted worries. Sex is supposed to be fun not anxiety provoking.

Dr. Bob



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