HELP, DR. BOB!!!!!! (VICIOUS CYCLE OF HIV TESTING, 2010)
May 8, 2010
Hi. I don't really know where to start.. this is kind of weird and sounds absolutely stupid. Basically, I had unprotected sex with a few different people and then I got so freaked out and scared that I had contracted HIV... 2 negative tests later, I still don't believe that I don't have it. I think either the lab messed up, my blood sample got mixed up, I still just haven't shown antibodies yet for whatever reason (even though the test was taken outside of the window period), I think the person taking the test read the results incorrectly, and then (the latest fear) is that when they draw my blood up for testing, they are using a dirty, infected needle. I'm stuck in this horrible cycle of fear... once I finally manage to alleviate one fear and tell myself I'm just being irrational... then I instantly move on to another one. It's gotten so bad- I just can't seem to break out of this! I want to know I am ok, but I am too scared and worried and guilt-ridden to accept negative results. I just want my life back. Can I really accept these results??? The tests were about 6 months after the last exposure. What if the lab messed them up?? Should I be retested?? Dr. Bob, please help me try to get past this!
Response from Dr. Frascino
Your vicious cycle of irrational fears fueled by guilt and your inability to accept the overwhelming evidence that you are HIV negative is not unique. (See below for just one of the many examples in the archives.) Your problem is psychological, not virological! HIV is not your problem. No way. No how. No additional HIV tests are warranted.
The best way to break the vicious cycle and hopefully turn it into a virtuous circle is to seek the help of a psychiatrist to help you confront and conquer your totally irrational fears. Psychotherapy (counseling) and anti-anxiety medications can be extremely helpful.
fear for over one year May 1, 2010
I am living under fear from last Aug 2009 for having unprotected sex in oct 2008 and ever since aug 2009 I have been getting myself tested and its been negative everytime. Evertime I go for a check, I fear that the I was exposed again thinking that the person who drew my blood was HIV positive and infected me with HIV infected blood. So my waiting starts again from the day I get myself checked and this has been going on and so far I have got myself checked 20times.The Last time I got myself checked was 50days back and been waiting again to complete 80days to get myself checked. I have no reason to believe that the person who drew my blood was HIV infected or I do not have any symtoms to fear that. But some where in my brain, the scare remains and forces me to go for a check.
Is getting myself checked itself is getting exposed? Are there been any such incidences that has been recorded or is it that the fear I developed initially was so devastating that it is getting very difficult to get out of my brain. Doc please advise.
Kind regards Arya
Response from Dr. Frascino
Your problem is that you are caught in a vicious circle of getting HIV tested, seeing the result is negative, and then worrying that the process of getting tested for HIV actually contaminated you with the virus. So you worry again for three months, then get tested, see that it's negative, and then begin worrying once again. Your fears are completely irrational and totally unwarranted. You're riding this "anything-but-merry" go-round repeatedly due to your irrational fear. I think deep down, after 20 rides on the madcap merry-go-round you realize your behavior is just plain nuts, right? Of course you do! You even state: "But somewhere in my brain, the scare remains and forces me to go for a check." BINGO! Your problem is your "brain" and the "scare," not HIV! My advice is simple. You now have overwhelming and irrefutable evidence you are HIV negative. Consequently HIV is not your problem. No way. No how. No additional HIV testing is warranted. You had way,way,way too many already. You do, however, have a significant medical problem that requires attention. You need to see a psychiatrist to help you confront your irrational fears and break your vicious cycle of testing and worrying. In other words it's time to focus on your real problems: your "brain" and your "scare." Psychotherapy (counseling) and possibly anti-anxiety medications will help you exit your merry-go-round before you get any dizzier!
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