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worried sick about HIV risk and symptoms
Nov 19, 2009

Dear Dr. Franscino,

I am very worried about my potential exposure to HIV and worried that the symptoms I had suffered are a sign of ARS.

On my way to a clinic in West Hollywood I had noticed I had a bleeding cuticle. I noticed the bleeding about 5 minutes before I arrived at the clinic. Normally I wouldn't have thought twice about the bleeding but in the area where the clinic is there were signs everywhere about HIV awareness and the importance of being tested. Just seeing the signs had elevated my anxiety about HIV. Afterwards I did some research on the area and it seems that West Hollywood has had a disproportianately large about of HIV/AIDS cases. When I arrived at the clinic I had shaken hands with a couple of gentlemen. I really don't know if my cuticle was still bleeding at the time, but it was definitely bleeding just a couple minutes before I had arrived. Also a note on the clinic is it does evaluations for medication for people suffering from a wide array of ailments such as migraines and nausea, but it is also often recommended for people suffering from HIV/AIDS to help with appetite and nausea. I really don't know the HIV statuses of the people I had shaken hands with, but it seems that the probability of they being HIV+ may be high.

About 2 and a half weeks later I had developed a severe sore throat that eventually led to me losing my voice. A few days after that, I had developed a severe cough that was constant and even kept me up at night. I also developed a couple of itchy bumps on my neck a few days after that. Then, about a week and a half later, I developed many small red raised bumps on my chest near my shoulder and on my back near my shoulder blade. Also, I had night sweats often.

When my symptoms kept getting more severe I started to worry and did some research and it looked like the symptoms I had suffered match the symptoms of HIV seroconversion.

My questions are: 1. Are the symptoms I had described above an indicator that I have been infected? 2. Is it possible to be infected with HIV through handshakes with a bleeding cuticle? 3. Should I get an HIV test? 4. Am I worrying about nothing or was I exposed to a genuine risk?

Thank you so much for all that you do and I will be sending a donation to your foundation.

Sincerely, Worried sick

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Actually, it's Frascino, not Franscino. So, you can just call me Dr. Bob.

Shaking hands with "a couple of gentlemen" at a West Hollywood clinic is not a risk for acquiring HIV, even if you had a bleeding cuticle! Would you freak out if you shook my hand. I, too am HIV positive and I shake peoples hands and give people hugs and kisses all day long.

To answer your specific questions:

1. No.

2. No.

3. No.

4. No risk and yes, you're worried about nothing.

I'd suggest you peruse the wealth of information on this site, in its archives and on the related links, focusing on exactly how HIV is and is not transmitted. I'm sure you'll find the information both enlightening and reassuring. This forum has an entire chapter devoted to nonsexual-HIV transmission. Check it out!

Thank you for your donation to The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation (www.concertedeffort.org). It's warmly appreciated.

Be well. Stop worrying, OK?

Dr. Bob



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