Would You Ever Consider Shutting Down This Forum?
Nov 9, 2010
I know there are people with real concerns and that you've helped so many. However, I'm noticing most just seem to be totally ridiculous like the one I just read about getting HIV from jacking off with one's self. I can't decided whether you are being punked with people laughing as they write the questions or whether there are really that many people out there with "issues". I'm trying to be nice.
I've noticed many of the questions about whether PEP is warranted are answered too late to be of help. That is not your fault as you would have to stay up 24/7 looking for PEP questions. I've also noticed these Am I Infected? questions are bleeding over into the other forums. I just read several to Dr. McGowan. I'm not sure if you have refused to answer them after 100 questions and they are now going there.
Do you feel your time answering these are worth your valuable time? You have so much knowledge about HIV that I would like to see you answer questions from people already infected with HIV and needing answers to living with HIV. I don't mean to be disrespectful or discount the valuable help you do provide. But as I said, it seems most of the questions are disrespecting your knowledge. If not totally shutting down the forum, would you consider giving questions about PEP first priority. As I said, I've noticed many questions where someone gave a time frame of when they possibly could have been infected and the answer came outside the 72 hours window--even though questions like "Can I give myself HIV" got answered before the PEP question. And, does repeatedly answering the same people just enable them? I notice one guy who wrote a question pretending to be his doctor. He said he was the guy's doctor and that the patient asked him to write. Well, he sent that same question to all the docs here at TheBody and to Dr. Gallant. It is highly suspect that a doc would write a question to you guys about whether this guy could be infected, first off. But, to write them to 5 docs with days in between so you knew he already got an answer.
Response from Dr. Frascino
I appreciate your concerns. Certainly it is possible some of the more outrageous questions submitted to the forum could have been sent by pranksters. But if doing so is the best they can do for fun, I feel sorry for them. I often try to make light of those questions. It's also worth noting that any of the more bizarre questions I respond to come from locations around the world where HIV/AIDS is taboo or where HIV/AIDS education is nonexistent. (Like the Bible Belt in the U.S., for example!) These folks really do have astounding misconceptions surrounding HIV transmission. I have spoken to many different groups about various AIDS topics and always take questions after a presentation. Shockingly, the questions are quite often similar to what you read in this forum! The continuing myths and misinformation surrounding HIV/AIDS never ceases to amaze me. This forum is dedicated to HIV/AIDS prevention and safer sex. Consequently most of the folks writing in are HIV negative and scared. I try to choose a wide variety of questions; including those representing real risk, such as condom failure in magnet couples or unprotected sex; and nonexistent risk, such as masturbation, lap dances, massage, etc.; in the hopes of educating an equally wide array of readers. Yes, the questions can be repetitive. I have said I sometimes feel like "The Department of Redundancy Department." However, I'm convinced the vast majority of folks writing in really are terrified and don't know where else to turn for information and guidance. I attempt to provide science-based factual information without the morbid seriousness or sterile clinical perspective of many other HIV/AIDS information Web sties. Perhaps that is what attracts so many "fluffernutters." Who knows? At any rate my purpose is to disseminate as much factual information as I can to the widest possible audience. If someone has a PEP question and does a simple archives search, there is a 99.9999% chance the information requested or reassurance needed is already waiting for them in the archives!
Regarding the "Am I Infected" questions, I receive literally thousands on a continuous basis from throughout the cyber-universe. I respond to only a very small percentage! As for folks who post questions to multiple forums simultaneously, we discourage this and often try to refer such questions to the single most appropriate expert forum.
As for answering questions from folks who are HIV infected, I do so as the expert in the Fatigue and Anemia forum. There are also a variety of other expert forums devoted to specific topics for HIVers.
Regarding dudes who submit questions pretending to be a doctor, we certainly see through their thinly veiled ruse, but see little benefit in confronting them (although occasionally I do). As for the dude who submitted the same question to five docs, he's either an anxious wreck or a totally Looney Tunes fluffernutter. In either case, I can do nothing but feel sorry for him.
The bottom line on to PEP or not to PEP is that these folks should get to an ER or urgent care clinic ASAP for an evaluation, not sit by the computer waiting for a cyber-sexpert to try to answer their question based on incomplete information! A proper evaluation often requires a conversation to determine the actual HIV risk.
Regarding HIV/AIDS advice in general, if folks need an immediate answer, they should see their doctor. If they want an immediate Web-based answer, they should use the archives. If they want to try their luck at a personal response from one of the experts here, they should realize we can only realistically respond to a very small percentage of what gets submitted.
Finally, as for shutting this forum down, nothing would make me happier than finding a cure, making it available to everyone and ending the forum because we conquered and cured AIDS. However, that doesn't seem likely in the near (or even medium) term. Shutting this forum down in the midst of the pandemic would give this expert loads more free time for other ventures; however, I don't think the millions of eyeballs that view the site month after month would be pleased.
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