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Consumed with fear for my whole family - what have I done?
Nov 9, 2010

Dear Doctor

Around 7 weeks ago, I had unprotected oral sex with a strange woman (reciprocated). She was a sex worker. I was very drunk, there is a possibility that there was unprotected vaginal sex for a very short period (like 1 minute). We went through 5 or 6 condoms. My mind may be playing tricks on me regarding this and I would say that I'm 95% sure that it didn't happen.

Foolishly and selfishly, I had unprotected sex with my Wife a couple of weeks later several times. My Wife was breast feeding our 14 month old child at the time.

About two weeks ago, the baby completely stopped breast feeding in favour of cow's milk.

Last week I had a sore throat and was a bit under the weather. My tongue was white, but to be frank my white tongue has recurred on multiple occasions over the years (typically when I am unwell). I'm not sure it's thrush. However, given my indiscretion in mid September my mind began to whir. I have been feeling pretty run down - but then again I have had a few late nights over the last 7 weeks entertaining clients to the early morning. I have had no rash, but I've read enough now to discern that you don't get all the symptoms.

Was this HIV? Oh my God, have I infected my Wife? Oh my God, HIV can pass through breast milk. Have I infected my baby too.

Then the bombshell last Thursday. My baby comes down with a fever. It runs for two days. Today she comes down with a rash over her back and tummy. Her tongue looks white (whiter than mine) and she's got a bit of nappy rash. She's in a good mood though. I take her to the doctor, he said it looks like a normal reaction after a fever. However, I read the internet and it seems that her symptoms could also by Acute HIV. I mean, how the hell could my baby have oral thrush? Her tongue looked really white at the back.

And then tonight, my Wife says she is coming down with the flu.

I've read your statements about the risk of oral sex. I've read that rates of normal sex transmission. I've read the rates of mother-to-child transmission by breast feeding (which are frighteningly high and of which I was totally ignorant). Statistically, the chances should be very low when you consider these events longitudinally and apply the risk factor. I know this. I won't ask you to repeat them.

But I am so full of fear, when I read about the viral load.

I am so full of fear. I am somewhat fearful for myself. But frankly, I would trade my life away for my baby and my Wife (my conduct hitherto suggests otherwise, I know). But I don't get that choice. Life does not work that way. I am on the brink of falling apart. I'm a respected professional, I'm a respected family man, but I could be a killer of my own family as well.

I have a few questions:

1) my symptoms were not clustered, a mild sore throat and white tongue 7-8 weeks hence plus a general feeling of malaise (at times I have felt okay though) - does this sound like acute HIV?; 2) is there any point in me going to get tested now or will that just be a false comfort; 3) would it make sense for all of us to get sick at around the same time given the timeline?; 4) does my baby's symptoms sound like acute HIV (my Wife's symptoms are yet to manifest)?; 5) is there anything I can do right now for my Wife and my child that could protect them from further harm (this will entail destroying my marriage and my family but perhaps it is time my Wife knew what a lowlife I really am); 6)have I completely blown this out of whack and am I seeing what I want to see after getting wound up by the internet?; 7) do you have any other advice or observations?

I feel like I am close to the edge of sanity right now. Writing this has helped. Thanks in advance.

I hope this can serve as a warning to other Husbands and Fathers. You can have everything in the world and not even know it. If I am negative after getting tested, I will NEVER put my family at risk again. Moreover, I will cherish my Wife and baby instead of treating them, in reality, with the same regard I show my car. I say and think that I love them, but my actions clearly betray me. I should also note the prostitute who I paid to use and abuse. I should not be contributing to her issues. Let us hope for everyone's sake that God will spare me, my family and that girl. I will do better. I will not be selfish anymore.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

1. Nope.

2. HIV-antibody tests taken before the three-month mark are not considered to be conclusive. Consequently, I'd advise waiting until then.

3. "Symptoms" are very unreliable in predicting who is and is not HIV infected. Consequently, I would't rely on them.

4. Nope.

5. I would recommend you level with your wife. It's not only the best way for you to confront your guilt, but also it's the right thing to do. You might even consider showing her this post. Your remorse over your lapse in judgment and your love for your wife and family come through loud and strong.

6. Your anxiety and guilt are certainly making things worse.

7. Use latex condoms with your wife until your HIV-negative status is reconfirmed with a three-month HIV-antibody test.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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