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nurse in despair
Mar 2, 2009

Hi Dr. Bob,

I have already sent you a message which you did not answer, and if possible I would really appreciate your opinion on this matter. I am a nursing student, and I have had a tremendous anxiety about HIV over the past year. I have thought that I have pricked myself multiple times in the past, and have gotten tested many mn=any times over the last year. About 1 month ago, I stupidly pricked myself a bunch of times with needles, which I obtained from the cupboard in a clinic. I pricked myself very deeply multiple times with different needles in order to get a sense of what it felt like with different needles and to see what it was like to really be pricked. I now deeply regret doing this, because about a week after the incident, I have a tremendous anxiety about possibly pricking myself with a contaminated needle and giving myself a bloodborne disease. I would really appreciate your opinion on the matter. Obviously I am very anxious, and it is causing me to think irrationally, but what do you recommend in order to appease my mind. I want to be tested and would like to know if you think that a 3 month combination Antibody antigen test would be sufficinet in order to definitively say that I do not have HIV. Please please please respond as I am very nervous and eagerly await to hear what you have to say. Thank you so much, and you will be a great help to me.

JL

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello JL,

You're a nursing student with "tremendous anxiety" of HIV who "thought" she had been pricked "multiple times in the past" and consequently you've been HIV tested "many times over the past year." Obviously the results were all negative. This tremendous anxiety, however, caused you to swipe different needles from work and impale yourself deeply multiple times with different needles in order to get a sense of what it felt like. However, doing this has caused you additional "tremendous anxiety" because now you fear you've given yourself HIV by making yourself a human pin cushion. Do I have that straight??? You report: "Obviously I am very anxious and it is causing me to think irrationally . . . ." BINGO! I couldn't agree more.

Nursing student, here's what I recommend:

1. Step away from the needles and sharp objects.

2. Stop your self-impaling experimentation.

3. Make an appointment with a psychiatrist. Your irrational fear of HIV and subsequent equally irrational behavior are pathological. A psychiatrist will help you confront and eventually overcome these totally unwarranted fears and help you avoid any further self harm.

4. Nursing is not a good career choice for you. I would seriously consider choosing a different profession. I strongly doubt you will ever become an effective nurse with your severe phobia.

5. No further HIV testing is warranted.

Dr. Bob



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