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Big Worry + How to deal with a Partner reluctant to talk about HIV

Mar 27, 2010

Dearest Dr Bob,

In December I wrote just to compliment you on your work - little did I know that I would need your advice shortly after...!

I (female) have since madly fallen in love with a man and unfortunately I tend to lose my brain when I'm in love.

So - we had sex, generally with condoms. BUT: As he told me that he had been tested negative for HIV last year and since has had no risky contacts, I believed him and became a bit more relaxed, so a few unsafe contacts happened:

He never paid much attention to the pre-ejaculate (and there was always a LOT of it !). I had to make him aware of it, but still he often came too close to me before the condom was on, so lots of his liquids ended on my private bits (and silly me didn't even wipe it immediately - only much much later, after intercourse with condom. So some of his liquid must have ended up inside me).

Once he ejaculated directly on my vagina entry and I wiped it off only much later. Another time he penetrated me (without condom), did not ejaculate inside me but there was surely lots of pre-ejaculate. I also did blow-jobs on him (again not to orgasm, but still...), and once whilst doing that some of his liquids landed in my eye, too.

Now this relationship is in a big crisis and will probably end, as I had some trust issues with him (lies), and now I panic without end, because I don't know if I can believe him that he was really tested negative, and also I don't know how many "unsafe" contacts he had / is having besides me.

I cannot talk to him about it, as he says I question him like a detective. I always found it very difficult to talk to him about safe sex in general, as he is one of those people who feel insulted, as if they were not trustworthy when issues like HIV etc come up. And then that usual "but don't you trust me" bla bla... I felt quite ridiculed sometimes when I mentioned HIV, as if I was a hypochondriac.

So now my main worry is of course a possible infection. I'm horrified, and don't know how to deal with the three months to come (as the last contact happened only a week ago). Do you have some advice on how to deal with that big panic?

My other question is : How to deal with someone (also for the future) who does not see the HIV issue the same way as me. Often men react in that way, and they feel questioned or insulted.

And I have difficulty to stay "strict" if I like a man and want him to like me too. I'm not very confident when it comes to men and guess I'm too keen to please them, and then abandon my personal, own values.

I am really shocked at my own behaviour. I don't know why I become so weak in the presence of a man I fancy. I should have insisted on putting the condom on more early. Never should I have let him penetrate me without condom that one time. It did happen on his initiative but I accepted it.

Well "I should have" doesn't help now. I am just so scared. Oh I would be so grateful for your advice. I know you are very very busy, but maybe you find a moment.

All my thanks and appreciation for your invaluable work which is so important. I thought I know it all but now life taught me something else, so I still have a lot to learn.

Kindest regards to you.

Response from Dr. Frascino


You're not alone in losing self control when cupid's arrow strikes, or when one's had too may cosmopolitans, or when someone is just damn horny. We are all human. That means we all make mistakes, even yours truly! The important thing is to admit our mistakes, accept the consequences for our actions and, most important, learn from the experience. Chances are the current anxiety-inducing period you are enduring is not something you're likely to forget in the future. You might want to make a copy of this post and my reply and keep it in a safe place. That way the next time you begin to "lose your brain," you can reread it. I doubt you'll "abandon (your) personal values" when you have a reminder such as this in front of you!

Your overall HIV-acquisition risk remains quite low, but is not completely nonexistent. Consequently HIV testing is warranted at the three-month mark. As for dealing with your anxiety and "big panic" during the window period, I have several suggestions:

Use the time to learn more about STDs/HIV. This site has a wealth of information in its archives and on the related links. The better informed you are, the less likely you'll make a similar mistake in the future.

Consider volunteering some of your time to help those in need at an AIDS service organization or hospice. Helping to relieve the suffering of others is an excellent way to keep our own problems, or potential problems, in perspective.

If the stress, panic and anxiety get to be a real problem, see your doctor and ask for a referral for counseling (psychotherapy). Anti-anxiety medications may also be helpful.

Good luck! I'm here if you need me.

Dr. Bob


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