Problem With Acceptance
Apr 25, 2010
Dr. Bob, After a few (stupid) unprotected sexual encounters over the past 2 years, I decided to get tested for HIV. I tested 3 times and all were negative. The last test, done at 7 months post-exposure, was also negative. I am really, really, really experiencing difficulty accepting the fact that I did not contract HIV. I think it might have to do with the guilt factor of how terrible I feel for putting myself in such a precarious situation to begin with, but I am not sure. I have had quite a few people tell me my results are conclusive and there is no reason to retest, but already (a few weeks after my last test) I am wanting to go get tested again just for my "peace of mind." I feel like I am never going to achieve that peace of mind! I just feel like I am one of those rare people where it is going to take longer than the 7 months for the tests to pick up my antibodies to HIV. Am I conclusively negative? Perhaps you will have the magic answer that will quell my worries once and for all, because my worrying has affected EVERYTHING in my life, from my relationship to my family to my grades in school. Can I accept this 7 month test as proof I did not get infected with HIV? What is keeping me from accepting this if it is believed to be a reliable result? Any advice is so appreciated, Dr. Bob, as I have really been struggling with this for so many months.
Response from Dr. Frascino
Your repeatedly negative HIV tests out to seven months are indeed definitive, conclusive and WOO-HOO-able. HIV is not your problem. No way. No how. No additional tests are warranted.
You state you want "peace of mind," but feel like you'll never achieve it and that your worrying has affected everything in your life from your relationship to your school grades. In addition you state: "I am really, really, really experiencing difficulty accepting the fact that I did not contract HIV." Clearly you understand "the fact" that you did not acquire the virus, i.e. ". . . I did not contract HIV." I agree there is overwhelming and irrefutable evidence proving this fact. Your problem, as you state, is accepting the fact. Being unable to accept reality or facts is a psychological problem. As you suggest, guilt may be playing a roll.
My advice is that you seek psychotherapy (counseling) to help you confront your guilt and irrational fears of being HIV positive.
As for what is keeping you from accepting your definitive results, the answer is fear; irrational, completely unwarranted fear. Your problem is not virological, but rather psychological. Conquer your fears and your WOO-HOO will be waiting for you!
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