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Thanks from the bottom of an X-Filer's heart
Oct 11, 2009

Dr. Bob,

I've just lived through an HIV scare, and I don't know how I would have made it through without your forum.

My story is similar to hundreds of others who have posted here. I'm a thirty something married heterosexual professional with young children. I was on an extended business trip in Europe and, without intending to do so, I got blackout drunk one night and wound up in a brothel. From what I remember, I received unprotected oral sex from two Eastern European women. I remember turning down vaginal sex multiple times, but I can't be sure that I didn't partake in it during the portions of the evening that I can't remember.

When I woke up in my hotel room early the next morning (I couldn't remember how I got back there), I was an absolute mess. I couldn't believe that I let myself get that drunk by myself in a strange city, I couldn't believe that I cheated on my wife, and I couldn't believe that I had unprotected oral sex (and possibly more) with multiple sex workers. I felt absolutely terrified, ashamed, and hopeless.

I really didn't know much about HIV prior to this incident beyond the fact that it was an STD and could be prevented with condom usage, which didnt help me much after the fact. I didn't think that HIV was transmissible through oral sex before the incident, but other websites that I found before finding The Body had convinced me that it was possible and fairly common. Im a child of the late 80s early 90s. I had no concept of the efficiency of HIV transmission rate (I thought that exposure almost always led to infection). I'd never heard of HAART or PEP, and I thought that most people with HIV died in 5 or 6 years (except for Magic Johnson, who was a mystery to me). By mid-afternoon of the day after my incident, I thought that there was a good chance that I had HIV and that I was going to die from it in the not-so-distant future.

Finding this site was a godsend. Your combination of scientifically backed explanations and humorous reassurances helped me put things in perspective, and your comprehensive archives answered every possible question that popped up. I learned what the window period was, and why there was controversy between 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months. I learned that unprotected vaginal sex with someone with HIV didn't guarantee HIV transmission, and that most sex workers did not have HIV. Most importantly, I saw that I was not the only young married guy to put himself in this position while drunk.

Anyway, after I came home from my trip, I leveled with my wife (who forgave me and provided me with loving support), and began the horrible wait. The first 3 months were terrible. I had panic attacks every morning and had to go on anti-depressants. I could barely concentrate at work. The only thing that kept me from curling up in the fetal position was this website. I needed near constant reassurance, as my mind kept dredging up possible ways that I could have been infected. Luckily, you had already answered every situational permutation that I could imagine (in fact, you had analyzed a situation almost identical to mine on the same day that my incident occurred). I obsessively read and re-read any of your responses that were remotely applicable to my situation, and I somehow made it to the 3 month test. It came out negative, but my wife and I decided to go ultra conservative (given that I couldn't everything that happened) and wait for the six month test. Although I was confident enough to stop taking the anti-depressants, I still had moments of doubt and fear during the ensuing three months. When those feelings arose, I came back and read your forum until I felt better.

My 6 month results came back negative today. My wife and I are both shouting WOOOOOOHOOOOOO! I can't thank you enough for your efforts. It must take the patience of a saint to read and answer ad nauseum what seems like the same ten or twenty questions over and over. However, I was very fortunate that you have answered hundreds of questions regarding insertive oral sex, vaginal sex, and sex with sex workers, because I could quickly and easily find the answer to everything that my terrified, neurotic brain could imagine.

Thanks again, and keep answering those QsTND!

Sincerely,

X-filer

P.S. I have sent a donation to the Robert J. Frascino AIDS foundation via PayPal, both to help those in need and to reward your commendable efforts here calming down all of us freaking out during our window periods.

P.P.S.- They need to put STD warnings on liquor bottles. Practically every situation described to you involved alcohol. I know that I would never have done what I had done had I been sober. It never crossed my mind that I might visit a brothel while drunk- I never even wanted to go to one before. Alcohol is fine in moderation, but we all have to remember to treat it with care- it's really easy to slip from moderation to excess to shitfaced if you let your guard down.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello X-Filer!

Welcome to the club! WOO-de-frickin'-HOO! Excellent news!

Thank you for your very kind comments and for taking the time to write in and share your story. I'm sure it will help others still stuck in worried-well hell.

As for your lapse in judgment, yes, excessive alcohol and other recreational drugs can lower inhibitions and completely cloud our senses. Also, it's well known that the higher powers gave men both a penis and a brain, but only enough blood to run one at a time.

Finally, thank you for your tax-deductible donation to The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation (www.concertedeffort.org). It's urgently needed and warmly appreciated. Your post points out that we still have a long way to go with our HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention programs.

Be well. Stay well.

Dr. Bob



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