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Scared to death, writing ask

Jul 5, 2009

Hi Dr Bob, thanks for the wonderful work you and your colleagues are doing here, i have going through the archives for a few months and my eyes seem to have open to a brand new world i never thought existed, i wish i knew then what i know now i wont be in this predicament. You see i had unprotected sex with a family friend who i am still closed to on april 14th while my fiancee was away for a month and ten days after i seem to have all the symptoms you can come up with in the book, starting with body vibrations till now, sore throat, pains in the neck which still persists but pains in other parts of the body gone after 6 weeks, white spots sudenly apearing in hands and legs,pains underneath the armpit for about a month, constantly blocked and running nostrils for a month, i work nights and have had soaking sweats while sleeping days, constantly run down and feeling like shit all the time and also experinced one very painful ulcer 7 weeks ago lasting about 5 days. i leveled with my partner when she came back and we have been practicing safe sex since but what is scaring me most now is she had suddenly broken out with non itchy rashes on her upper chest, back and neck.Both my GP and sexual health adviser has atributed all my symptoms to anxiety but i know what am feeling if not while will it start after the sex incident, i mean i used to do 200 push ups in the morning now i cant even do 50. i have been booked in for an oral test on 23rd of july but am scared to death as i have read other similar stories and concluded i am + which is the end for me as i and my girlfrien are having a baby in september and might have infected her and the baby. Dr Pls help, i really need a world from you and will definitely donate as i am so scared i might not even go for the test incase it turns out +. Henry from London

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Henry from London,

I agree unprotected sex does place you at some degree of risk for STDs, including HIV. However, I do not agree that your "every symptom in the book" indicates you are HIV infected. In fact "symptoms" are notoriously unreliable in predicting who is and is not HIV infected. Also, concluding you are HIV positive (because you are "scared to death" and have symptoms) and actually being HIV infected are two very different things. A quick perusal of the archives of this forum will show you numerous examples of folks who were 110% convinced they were HIV infected who ultimately turned out to be HIV negative. The chances are excellent, when all is said and done, that you will join this group of "ex-worried wells"!

I agree with your physician and sexual health adviser that many of your symptoms are anxiety induced. The symptoms didn't come on until after your indiscretion, because that's when you started to feel guilty and subsequently worry about the potential consequences of your actions.

As for being too scared to get tested, that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever; for you, for your fiancée or for your unborn child! Henry, it's time to man-up and do what needs to be done. The odds are all in your favor that you did not contract HIV from your lapse in judgment.

I have several suggestions:

1. If you need help with being "scared to death" while waiting for your HIV test, get help for your anxiety. Psychotherapy (counseling) and/or anti-anxiety medications can help you endure the uncertainties and stress of waiting through the window period.

2. Since you are still close to your family friend bedmate, consider asking her to get HIV tested. If she tests negative, you'll be able to relax considerably, because your HIV risk then would be reduced to the very remote possibility that she is in her window period (HIV infected but still testing HIV negative).

3. Get your HIV test on July 23rd as scheduled and be prepared to WOO-HOO! You can then write back and I'll add your testimonial to the gazillions of others from those who have had experiences like yours.

Thank you for your donation to the Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation ( It's warmly appreciated. In return, Henry, I'm sending you my good-luck karma that your three-month definitive HIV test will be negative. I'm quite confident it will indeed be negative. (My good-luck karma has yet to fail!)

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

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