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Woo Hoo - Thank You
Dec 8, 2010

Dear Doctor

You replied to my message on November 9 regarding my concerns about a possible exposure. You may recall I was concerned about transmission to my Wife and then on to my breast-fed baby.

After speaking to my general practitioner, I had a test a couple of days ago. I received the results today (2.5 months after exposure and well after the resolution of my suspected symptoms) which confirmed my negative status. I did this a couple of weeks earlier than the 3 month window, because my anxiety was making me loopy. I will do a further test in 3 months to confirm same.

I am very relieved, to say the least. Statistically, things are looking profoundly in my favour - this is always a good thing. Instead of being 50/50 about my prospects of infection, I am now 99.9% sure that I am negative. I can now stop assessing every quiver, tingle, bump and mark. The shadows can rest assured that I won't be jumping upon seeing them anytime soon. I honestly believe most of my symptoms arose from my anxiety. It is a self-perpetuating cycle that can only be broken by a test.

I want to thank you for your advice and counsel. I burst into tears when I read your e-mail. To have someone there for me, when I could talk to no-one else, was literally what kept me on the margin of sanity rather than on the wrong-side of it. Your kind and thoughtful words made a profound difference to my functioning, such as it was, over the last month.

I should further note that in preparing myself for the possible "bad news", I read this site and your posts carefully. I was able to learn that a positive life would still be exactly that: positive. I was so ignorant before and I have now learned so much. It is easy to see HIV/AIDS as rendering people as damaged and inhuman, until you find yourself possible crossing the boundary between negative and positive.

I live in a developed country - but I knew so very little about HIV/AIDS. I remember receiving the message loud and clear as a child. Nowadays, HIV/AIDS seems to have fallen off the public health education radar in my country. I don't blame this for my own personal stupidity but I may have had more cause for thought. I will use this experience to get involved in the HIV/AIDS issue in my community to the extent that I can, rather than just skulking off into the night cap in hand.

I will start with a donation to your good cause and by amending my personal conduct. It is time for me to grow up. I am so thankful that my Wife and Child have not had to bear the costs of my mistakes. I'm not sure that I will have another chance like this, so consider me well warned.

Thank you again.

M

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello M,

Welcome back to the forum and WOO-HOOOOO!!! Excellent news! Thanks for your very kind comments, for taking the time to write back and share your story and also for your tax-deductible donation to The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation (www.concertedeffort.org). All are warmly appreciated!

I absolutely agree that the HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and education campaigns are sorely inadequate in many countries, including developed countries, like my own (USA). Foundations like The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation try to promote HIV/AIDS awareness via advocacy and education, but it's an uphill struggle. AIDS has indeed fallen off the public health radar map. Even on December 1, World AIDS Day, there was hardly a mention in most newspapers or television news broadcasts. Somehow 33.3 million people infected with a terminal contagious virus that snuffs out about 2,000,000 lives prematurely every year and infects another person in the U.S. every 9.5 minutes just isn't "news" anymore!!! I'm delighted you have decided to join the fight against the pandemic. If we all just did our part, we could stop HIV/AIDS cold in its tracks.

Be well M. I'm extremely confident your three-month definitive test will be negative.

Thanks again for your support of The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation (www.concertedeffort.org). In return I'm sending you my good-luck/good-health karma that you are now and will forever be HIV free.

Happy Healthy Holidays.

Dr. Bob

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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