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I Just Can't Do This Anymore
Apr 28, 2010

Hi, Dr. Bob.

I guess you can add this post to your archive of "fluffernutters" who are positive they are positive despite professional opinions from you and other doctors that we do not have HIV- "no way, no how." Not only have I been reassured by you, but Dr. Edward Hook from medhelp.org also agrees that my test results are conclusive and that I should believe them. I have been tested outside the window period and was negative multiple times. (4 to be exact.) To condense a long story- I am female and had unprotected vaginal sex a few times with 4 different guys. I knew them well but I did not know their HIV status. I am so unbelievably ashamed to say that the last of these encounters resulted in my becoming pregnant. Being in nursing school, I realized there was no way I could deal with a pregnancy at the same time and I opted to terminate my pregnancy by having an abortion. The guilt over this huge decision and my utter stupidity and putting myself at risk for other serious consequences did not catch up to me until a few months ago. Now I find it hard to live with myself. When I finally came to my senses and realized how stupid I was being, I went and got tested for all STDs and somehow everything came back negative. Then, at about 6 months post exposure I also got tested for HIV. The results go as follows: -Rapid test with oral swab at 6 months post exposure: negative. -Oral swab test sent into lab at 6 months 1 week: negative. -Conventional blood test at 6 months 2 weeks: negative. -Conventional blood test at 7 months: negative.

Despite these repeatedly negative results past the window period, I have 100% convinced myself that I am HIV+. I feel that after being so stupidly promiscious with so many guys and even terminating my own pregnancy (which is something I ALWAYS stood against) I deserve nothing less than to have HIV. I just cannot accept my results and keep reading things that might shine light on the possibility that I still somehow have it. A month or so ago, I received the results from my Pap smear and they were abnormal. Everything turned out fine after further examination, but this even further convinced me that I have HIV as women with the virus are more susceptible to HPV infection, leading to abnormal Pap smears. Every symptom I get I relate to HIV somehow. Sore throat, fever, swollen lymph nodes... anything. Also, during clinical at a hospital, an incident occurred and I got some of a patient's blood on my hand. Though in my heart I KNOW I did not have any open cuts or anything, I have also convinced myself that I did and that I have contracted HIV in this way if not in the form of an STD. The infection control nurse informed me it was nothing I should be worried about, PEP was not offered, and neither was follow-up testing. The patient was a 68 year old man and the hospital knew him well, and yet I cannot accept their reassurances either. They did not offer to have him tested for HIV/hepatitis.

I don't know how much longer I can go on like this. Life has gotten so hard and I am no longer happy. I don't know how to be anymore. I'm miserable.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

You have characterized your problem extremely well:

"I have 100% convinced myself that I am HIV+."

"I deserve nothing less than to have HIV."

"I am so unbelievably ashamed."

". . . Guilt over this huge decision (the abortion) and my utter stupidity at putting myself at risk for other serious consequences . . . ."

"I'm miserable."

You now have overwhelming and irrefutable evidence that you are HIV negative plus the opinion of multiple doctors corroborating this fact. From the above quotes and your definitively negative HIV tests, I'm confident that you see your problems are psychological, not virologic. Guilt and irrational fear of HIV are combining to turn you into a depressed fluffernutter who refuses to believe reality. My advice is that you see a psychiatrist to help explore all the guilt issues around your lapse in judgement and subsequent decision to have an abortion. The psychiatrist can also help with your clinical depression and irrational fears. We are all only human. That means we all make mistakes -- even yours truly! The important thing is to recognize our mistakes, accept the consequences for our actions, and learn from these experiences.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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