Tom Riddle: Thanks!
Aug 9, 2010
I thank you cordially, Dr. Bob. I will follow your wise advice and focus on working with competent psychiatrist (and of course I will reread Harry Potter during the treatment). I will do my best not to bother you with paranoid hiv-tansmission questions and I will write you in several months (after I`m done with hiv-phobia) to thank you once again
Response from Dr. Frascino
Thanks for your thanks. I'm absolutely confident you've made the correct decision to regain both your physical and psychological well-being. (That decision includes not only psychotherapy with a competent and compassionate psychiatrist but also completing the entire Harry Potter series!)
Good luck. Be well.
You are like Dumbledore froh Harry Potter (intelligent and wise) Aug 6, 2010
Sorry, I`m not sure whether I managed to post my question so I`ll repost.
Sorry that I wrote so much. First two passages are my thoughts about you and HIV. I really want to share them with you.
Unfortunately I'm also seeking your council, so the third passage is dedicated to my chagrins and HIV-worries.
Yes, I think you are indeed like Dumbledore from Harry Potter series - intelligent, wise, open-minded, liberal-minded, fearless and openly criticizing the authorities for being corrupt and ineffective . What is more important is that even facing disastrous health problems he stayed dedicated to his mission and mocked the fear of death. It all indeed reminds me of you. I`m not saying that you have disastrous health problems, but your story of seroconversion is so unjust - it should not have happened to you.
I was shocked to read some guys comments where they stated they don't believe you and think that you got that from anal intercourse. I fail to grasp how they imagine this scenario ..... probably they believe that you managed to mesmerize everyone around you and make them believe in needlestick injury. Anyway their theories makes no sense at all and reek as a product of rigid thinking and deep-seated xenophobia. And I`m so sorry that they dare to write their insults to you. HIV probably is not their problem, but this dudes definitely suffer from idiocy and lack of education.
ABOUT DAMNED ABSTINENCE ONLY SEX EDUCATION IN MY COUNTRY
By the way, this rigid thinking is even MUCH more spread in my country - Russia (I write it`s name with a mixture of pride and shame). Last time I checked, the site of Moscow AIDS Center was dominated by a slogan claiming that "Love and true feelings are the best protection against HIV". When you click on it it opens an article, where they praise abstinence-only sex education and your former president policy in that domain.
They criticize those who believe in " It doesn`t matter whom you have sex with, It matters only how you protect yourself" and say that promoters of such philosophy are likely funded by condom manufacturers. Yes, another damned conspiracy theory - now on official level. Fortunately they admit though that condoms offer excellent protection.
Practically all my friends are sure that HIV touches only drug-abusers, homosexuals and those who visit CSW`s. They (not all, luckily) prefer not to use condoms, claiming that they trust their girlfriends and love them. Some of them even believe (!!!!) in crap about holes in the condoms or really think that HIV is a myth launched by CIA/Kremlin/Israel/ Mason brotherhood and aimed to control the birthrate and earn money on condoms and treatment. They really do believe in that.
You know, I dream to become one day a well-known businessman in my country or probably even a liberal-wing politician. Of course it's not a plan, rather a hope, a virtual goal - but if I achieve it, I know for sure that HIV-education of the youth will become one of my primary goals. I hope that I will have enough power and resources to invite you and other HIV-gurus in Moscow in order to organize safe sex lectures and put the concept of HIV in young ignorant minds. You may count on me in that. Likely I will fail with this Napoleonic plans and will spent my life as a school teacher or university prof - but even with that most unfortunate outcome I`ll do my best to advise my students against unsafe sex. You may count on that also.
MY (RATHER SAD) STORY
1) DAWN OF HIV-ANXIETY I am 23 now and suffer from anxiety related mental issues since 2002 (yes, a long time). For the last 2-3 years I am primarily focused on HIV (since the beginning of my discrete sexual life). It was something like that. My first mental healthcare therapist encouraged me to have sex, claiming that it will cure me from anxiety. He was rather pressing about that, so I decided to lay down with a girl (march 2007). We tried unprotected oral (at that time I never thought of that as a way of transmission), then I panicked, broke up with that gf and tested. Of course it was negative (now I know how low risk it was - thanks to You, medhelp and aidsmeds team). I was furious with my therapist and finished visiting him, having decided never to have sex again. But fears persisted, so I found a new one - a fan of treating via medication. He prescribed me several anti-anxiety and anti-depression drugs. The side-way effects were so terrible - vomiting, hallucinations, skin irritation, muscle spasms etc. So I dropped it and found another therapist who prescribed me with seroquel. I took it for 2 months, but then also had to drop - it seemed to affect my mental capabilities and contributed to gaining of the body fat. So about 7 or eight months I've been fighting my fears via studying and working (it is possible in Russia to study in University and work). Fortunately, at that time I yet had a diversity of fears - cancer, tetanus, rabies, imprisonment or even death penalty for expressing anti-Putin views and was not so obsessed with HIV (yep, diversity was better). My need for a "mental fortress" was so great that I managed to start running a small business with my friends.
2) BECOMING EXTREMLY WORRIED AND HOPEFULLY WELL
At that time (june 2008) I tried once again to engage in sex with a girl. We had a simple petting, but then I found a scratch on my finger and managed to convince myself that it was cut during the process on undressing her and then I inserted my just that moment cut (or scratched) finger behind her buttocks (inside butt-crack, gluetal cleft or intergluetal cleft, or natal cleft - I think it`s all the same) and held it there for more than 10 seconds. I became a bit worried but at that time I had plenty more worries (like taking anti-rabid drugs because a street dog barked at me and I thought her saliva could reach my mouth and eyes) and was not rather obsessed with that. And I finally found a new therapist who was against anti-anxiety drugs and considered that my problems had "family roots".
He, eloquent and intelligent guy, managed to free me via sinple talking and hypnosis from the majority of my phobias - but not from HIV. And as soon as I realized that I am free of them, I quickly once again shifted to HIV and that episode. I obsessed for a half a year (October 2008 - February 2009) and then finally decided to read all HIV-info on russian sites. They never ever mention anal (rectal) secretions and focus on semen, pre-cum, bllod, vaginal secretions ad brest milk. I concluded that none of this liquids are found between buttocks and had a peace of mind for several months (and managed to finish university). Then anxiety returned and I decided to return to my therapist and focus on HIV and sexual fears. We talked for a year and at some point it was productive. I did my best to resist the temptation to test - I knew that should I test, I will never ever think of touching girl again and will drop counseling.
I kept saying to myself that I even if that my- freshly-cut-finger-touching-her-anus-scenario was true, It was not a risk (like frottage when you rub your penis on anus of a HIV-positive person + many sources claimed that fingering even with fresh cuts is not risk). Also I learned about anal/rectal secretions and was afraid that they came into contact with that cut. So it was a hard time. 3 weeks ago I engaged in first vaginal intercourse in my life (of course protected) and then another one. After that I felt free to test ( I tried sex and rather enjoyed it so I knew that I will want it again) and visited one of commercial labs.
3) HIV-TESTING There another round of my problems began. I was told there that since I had unsafe practice 2 years ago (summer 2010 - summer 2008 = 2 years) so I have nothing to worry, because if I became infected, it would have already became evident somehow. WRONG!!!! And actually disturbing - to know that health care professional can be so ignorant and clueless.
I said that I want to test anyway and while she was taking my blood sample asked her about window periods in their commercial (and claiming to orient on Western standards) lab. Since I finally started sex life, I was interested in testing opportunities. Moreover a paranoid part of me claimed that condom came down and didn't cover a part of my foreskin. So I asked and was prepared to hear about 3 months. But no. She said that you need to test in 3, 6 and 12 months after the possible exposure. Imagine how shocked I was - russian medical standards strike again. I came home and googled - it seems that in general all Russian doctors think that 3 months are enough, but have to follow MinZdrav (Ministry of Healthcare - just like CDC, but even more corrupt and ineffective) guidelines. 4) OBSESSING AND COMPULSING I received a paper where it stated that no antibodies to HIV were found and that no referential (or reference) indicators (or parameters, or figures - don't understand what's that and not sure about translation) were found. I asked whether it was OK and lab stuff said that it was definitely OK. Then I called to hotline and got the same answer and then to the organization that screened my blood - they also said it is OK. Then a thought of strains and subtypes came to my mind. I figured that Architect "HIV Ag/Ab Combo" 86280HN00 they used didn't pick up all the subtypes : I found in the internet the list of subtypes it detects - HIV-1 subtypes A-G from M and O groups and HIV-2.
What about H-K subtypes?
What's more disturbing is that it seems to be the most widespread and officially recommended test in Russia, and this means that I will be unable to test for all subtypes in Russia? Should I find a new job (I`ve lost already 2 jobs because of this HIV-paranoia) and start accumulating money to visit UK or US for a conclusive test? It sounds a bit insane. Oh, even if I do that i will invent another problem and likely will decide to test in France, Japan, Australia... Than in China, or probably North Korea. Sight-seeing is excellent thing, but hiv-worrying is not. Moreover my current therapists seems to unable to help me at this point. He helped me a lot, but now it seems that talking is not enough and eloquence will not help. He is not M.D. and can't prescribe a medication. And as if the situation is not grim enough he says that probably my HIV-phobia will be immortal. And I'm afraid that he a bit interested in it`s immortality as it was extremly lucrative for him. I don't know what to do at all - whether to find a new therapist and start drinking anti-anxiety pills once again or whether to start saving money for a testing abroad. Something tells me that Russian HIV-tests are fine (Architect "HIV Ag/Ab Combo" 86280HN00 included) and that I have all reasons to wohooo and than wohoo again after several months if I decide to test after my first vaginal intercourse. But I'm so tired of that never-ending anxiety and depression and fail to see the way out.
So I would appreciate your opinion on my problems. What is more important for me now - to focus on testing or to focus on treating anxiety? What`s your opinion about adequacy of HIV-testing in my country (probably I should go to public government-run clinic), window periods and what would you advice to do with it?. My HIV risks (that finger-scenario, rolled down condom-scenario etc) are not that important , though I would appreciate your comments on that also. I`ve ran off money and can`t send any donations, unfortunately. I`ve lost now two jobs and can't focus on my PhD studies. I just want an end to all this. I sorry that I probably dissaponted you and finally turned out to be a loony paranoid freak. And I apologize that I bother you with my fear-crap while you could be helping someone who really has an HIV-trouble.
Yours sincerely, Tom Riddle ( I realize how childish it is to choose such a nickname but I really enjoy reading Harry Potter series - they help to fight with anxiety)
Response from Dr. Frascino
Hello Tom Riddle,
1. As to "about you": Dumbledore? Me? Nah, I'd prefer to be Harry any day.
2. As to abstinence-only sex education: I agree with you.
3. As to your story: your HIV-acquisition risk is nonexistent. Your problem is not HIV, but rather fear of HIV. Testing for extremely rare subtypes is not warranted, necessary or even available commercially. Routine HIV testing in Russia is more than adequate.
I would suggest you find a competent psychiatrist (MD) with whom you can work closely to treat your anxiety, depression, HIV paranoia and irrational fears. In the meantime continue reading Harry Potter, one of my all-time-favorite series!
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