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feedback (DR. BOB'S "CRAZED GRIN"???????)
Mar 10, 2011

Hi dr Bob, I was reading through your Q&A section, and it struck me odd that you used a picture with a crazed grin on your face while advising people struggling with quite painful and somber circumstances. Don't you think a photo with a more sincere, perhaps empathic expression on your face would be more appropriate? Or maybe you are trying to tell us this is all funny to you, after all we are just stupid patiants and you are the acomplished doctor... Seriously, reconside the photo, the emotion on the picture is not appropriate for the context in which it is displayed.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

"Crazed grin"? Hmm. Sorry you don't approve of my photo, but that's the way I look nearly all the time. Really, it is! If you prefer a more dour doom-and-gloom expression, I'd suggest you review the mug shots of Fox News "experts" who report on anything having to do with Obama, same-sex marriage, healthcare reform legislation, or sex.

As for my feeling you are all stupid "patiants" and I'm the "acomplished" doctor, well I have three things to say about that:

1. Accomplished has two c's.

2. What the hell are "patiants"?

3. I have been positively charged since January 1991. Consequently I can offer more than an "empathic expression" to other HIVers. I'd suggest you spend more time reading my responses and less time criticizing my smile! See below.

Dr. Bob

Your thoughts (BEING POSITIVE ABOUT BEING POSITIVE, 2011) Jan 4, 2011

Hi,

I was wondering if sometime you might blog about how you get through having hiv. Did you have depression at first (like I am) and what do you think everyday to keep you going? Does it still bother you that you have it and do you fear it? I don't know how to get through things I guess. I mean we pretty much know that we are going to die from aids and we are just waiting for it to happen. If it isn't too personal could you blog about how you cope with things? thanks, Matt

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Matt,

I'll add it to my ever-growing list of blog topics. I have addressed many of these issues previously in this forum and in some of my previous blogs. I'll repost below a small sample of what can be found in the archives of this forum.

Let's get through this together and be here for the cure, OK?

Dr. Bob

A question for humanity (BEING POSITIVE ABOUT BEING POSITIVE, 2009) Jul 12, 2009

Hi Dr. Bob,

I had written to you a couple of times but did'nt get an answer. I was worried of breast milk exposure with a massuese. I got tested negative on 7 occasions in 12 weeks (12th week included)on duo tests as well as a PCR DNA in week 9. However, this forum was a great helper during the times when I actually contemplated suicide. How do you manage to live with this damn disease and find it in you to help other people? I am 31 and realised that life is so precious and we can do so much for those in need. Just that it must be so difficult to live with this condition and still live a fulfilling life. Just how do you do it doc? I live in India and there are so many people who probably don't even know they are infected. May god give every soul a little bit of your compassion and courage. May you live long and prosper.

Your friend from India

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Friend from India,

I've addressed the question of breast milk as an HIV-transmission risk for adults many times in this forum. Hopefully you found those responses in the archives. I'm delighted (although in no way surprised) your definitive HIV test was negative.

As for how I remain positive about being positive (so to speak), I've actually addressed that in the archives as well. You can find those responses in the chapter entitled "About Dr. Frascino." I'll repost below a sample of what can be found there.

Be well. Stay well.

Dr. Bob

A reality you and i face everyday (BEING POSITIVE ABOUT BEING POSITIVE) Jan 2, 2009

Dr Bob, From the forum i have found that you are a person who has taken hiv and life in the same stride and lived it to the full! I am proud of you and i am sure so are many of the readers! But i was diagnosed just recently, a week before and i am an immigrant student who just got a job in engineering industry in the midst of this terrible economy! How do i make sense of everything? I mean first of all i need to convince myself that i didnt let my parents down by spending half a grand on education and now that i have a job to start in this poor economy, i also have a disease to deal with! How do i convince myself?What do i tell myself? How do i face myself in the mirror? And ofcourse what do i do to make sure that i go on living as the rest of us do without suffering since i think thats the most fitting reply to the world, "that i can live life just like you without being hindered by a stupid disease"?

Thank you and wish you a very happy new yr, Andy(not my real name)

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

"We" are not alone. Remember there are over 33,000,000 of us currently on this planet cohabitating with this unwanted intruder. Each of us has our own unique story of how HIV screwed up our life's plans.

1. How do you make sense of everything? Well, not everything "makes sense." Remember life, love, sex and illness are all essentially unscheduled events! Using a game of cards as an analogy: You may not be able to change the hand you've been dealt; however, how you choose to play the cards is totally up to you. I'd suggest you begin by reading the information in the "Just Diagnosed" chapter that can be found on The Body's homepage under the Quick links heading. Take control of your situation. Don't let your situation control you. (See below.)

2. Regarding your parents, this is not their problem. It's yours. Certainly they will be disappointed and probably scared. You need to gain control and perspective on your new reality before you'll be able to give others a proper perspective on being "virally enhanced."

3. How do you face yourself in the mirror? I'd suggest doing so with open eyes, a clear head, and an optimistic attitude.

4. Focus on living well with HIV, not on being ill or suffering with HIV. Get informed. Work with a knowledgeable and compassionate HIV physician specialist. Build a strong support system. Read through the information on this site and in the archives of this forum. There you will find many courageous and inspiring testimonials.

I'm here if you need me, OK?

Be well! (I mean that!)

Dr. Bob

What is your secret? Jul 10, 2005

Dear Dr. Bob, Can you tell me how you keep such a positive attitude? Your upbeat attitude shows in your answers on this website. I have been positive 13 yrs. and have gone from very bad health to right now my viral load under 200 and cd4 201. These numbers are better than I have ever had, but I still feel awful and have many bad health issues going on. I cannot work which I hate and recently I have become hateful to my partner, family and everyone around me. I had unsafe sex one time 13 yrs ago due to a breakup with my partner after 7 yrs and became infected. We are together now and July will be our 22 anniversary. He does not have hiv. I was tested before we got back together. I also have the support of my entire family and all my friends. What is wrong with me? I do not want to fight this anymore. Don't worry I am not going to do anything stupid to hurt myself. I am just ready to stop treatment altogether. I have read you bio and know how you got hiv and just wondered how you are so upbeat. You should sell the secret. You were helping someone and got infected and I was upset about my break-up and got drunk and got it. I guess I have not gotten over my guilt or should I have a swift kick in the butt and be told to get over it. I have taken up enough of your time, but would appreciate your answer. You are a wonderful person for all you do for people. Thank you and bless you.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

How do I stay positive about being positive??? Hmmm . . . well, I truly believe life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. I guess I've been lucky enough to have had (and continue to have) more than my fair share of those moments. I don't have a "secret," but rather a philosophy on life. I'll post a couple of responses from the archives in which I've addressed this question, OK? Interestingly, the first two I pulled up both use one of my favorite George Bernard Shaw quotes. I guess it bears repeating.

I wish you peace and health.

Dr. Bob

I love your smile. Apr 18, 2005

Hey Doc. I had a question to ask you about insertive oral but i have read through the archives enough to realize you have said all you need to say about this. Anyway i couldn't help but wonder how you keep such a great disposition on life. I mean come on dude you seem happy and funny all of the time. I think the main thing i have learned from you is that no matter what happens keep on keeping on and dont let life get you down until your 6 feet under.You have changed my perception of role models from athletes to people who have to face maybe the harshest disease ever. I hope you are around for a long time and continue to let that vivid personality of yours shine.PS i am not gay but you are my man. Holler at your boy>

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

I see no reason to holler. Rather, I'll just give a quote from George Bernard Shaw that reflects my positive attitude on being positively positive.

"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. The being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy . . . . Life is no brief candle for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations."

-- George Bernard Shaw

Stay well.

Dr. Bob

Dr. Bob, What about you? Sep 6, 2004

Hello Dr. Bob,

I want to start by simply saying thank you for all of the work that you do each day on this site. You bring so much comfort and knowledge to people. You are a very compassionate and caring man.

Perhaps it doesn't surprise you that we (your devote fans) are just as caring and concerned about you. Some of us can't help but wonder how you are doing with this disease. What is your status in terms of viral load and CD4? How do you find strength each day to go on? and what can we do for you to help you with this very trying time in your life?

You do not have to answer this if you do not want to. We just simply want to know about someone we love. And I mean that Dr. Bob.

Your Friend Always William

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi William,

What a pleasure to read a question that isn't self-centered and related to a lap dance from a bisexual cross-dressing transsexual Mormon midget! There were so many of those types of questions coming in from New York City last week ahhh, the fools and fanatics of the GOP Convention!!!

The best word for my viral load and CD4 count at the moment would be "stable." How am I doing with the disease? Well, according to the statistics at the time the virus found me in January of 1991, I shouldn't even be here, so I'd say I'm doing quite well. Sure, at times I feel as though I'm living on borrowed time. As I've said before, I really do believe we measure life in the wrong dimension. A life shouldn't be measured merely in length, but rather in depth. In many ways, perhaps because of HIV and the depth of my experiences, I've never felt more alive.

I won't say that cohabitating with HIV is easy. It's not. The drugs that keep me alive are science's classic double-edged sword causing not only great benefits but also some not-so-great side effects. At times I can be so exhausted I need to take a nap before going to bed. Once asleep, I can sometimes have my very own version of a "wet dream," a drenching night sweat that has, on occasion, made me wonder if I should wear a lifejacket and flippers to bed. At times I look at our linen closet and refrigerator, and see that it's now decorated in "nouveau pharmacy" style. Mack trucks deliver my medications in Godzilla-sized containers. Like so many other virally enhanced folks, I've had my fair share of HIV-related complications, but I see no point in dwelling on them. In life, as in playing cards, you can't choose the cards you are dealt, but you can definitely choose how to play these cares. Perhaps that's the real secret of living well on borrowed time. I also freely admit having Steve (Dr. Steve in The Body's Tratamientos Forum) to share life, love, sex, and other unscheduled events makes me the luckiest guy on the planet.

Here is my two-rule manifesto for living well with HIV:

1. "This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. The being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy . . . . Life is no brief candle for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations." George Bernard Shaw

2. Always remember the wise advice of rule number 1.

Thanks for your concern and friendship, William. I find that compassion and generosity, when freely given to those in need, is returned a thousand fold.

Stay well, William.

Your friend,

Dr. Bob

Life, Love, Sex, HIV and Other Unscheduled Events By Bob Frascino, M.D. (Blog post January 13, 2010)

That's my topic (and my life story) and I'm sticking to it. Welcome to Dr. Bob's blog. I promise future posts will be positively teeming with life lessons, love stories and steamy sex, all focused through the unforgiving prism of HIV.

However, by way of introduction to the new kid on the blog, I thought I would begin with some of my life's "unscheduled events," which have led me to this very point in my excellent adventure on this wild and wacky planet.

First, by way of full disclosure (note to self: blog about disclosure sometime soon), I must admit I'm new to this whole blogosphere thingy. It's not that I tend to chisel my correspondences onto stone tablets, but rather that I'm not the kind of guy who readily tweets, Flickrs, LinkedIns or Facebooks.

OK, I admit I'm a social networking dinosaur compared to my blogging compatriots, so I'm relying on all those who are reading these posts to comment and criticize at will. If you find my rants a snoozapalooza, just let me know, OK? I can take it. I may cry a bit, but I'll get over it. No, I won't. Yes, I will. No, I won't. But let the comments fly nonetheless.

OK, on to some unscheduled events:

Attending Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music was an unscheduled event!

I DIDN'T PLAN TO ATTEND OBERLIN COLLEGE AND CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC. I had a scholarship waiting for me at the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y., my hometown, and planned to continue my musical training at the Eastman School of Music. However, integrating my interest in science at the University of Rochester and my classical piano training at the Eastman School proved daunting because the two schools and campuses were independent. Oberlin, on the other hand, was within driving distance of my home and the music conservatory was right on campus and intimately linked to the College of Arts and Sciences.

So I decided to take a road trip and have a look-see. I visited the campus on a gloriously sunny day. The view of the gleaming white Conservatory of Music across Tappan Square impressed me, as did what I saw on Tappan Square: A shirtless guy with the longest and most unruly mop of hair I had ever seen was running at top speed to catch a Frisbee that had been expertly tossed by another guy who was a dead ringer for Jimi Hendrix. I couldn't help but think that Jimi Hendrix was playing Frisbee with Cousin Itt from the Addams Family! Cousin Itt must have noticed my interest, because he suddenly yelled out "wanna play?"

There I was looking like a high school kid with my shortish hair and geek-before-it-was-chic clothes, including embarrassingly tall platform shoes and a dress shirt with an enormous collar. I was flabbergasted that the likes of Cousin Itt and Jimi Hendrix wanted to play Frisbee with me.

Off came my platform shoes. I rolled up my bell-bottomed, checkered dress pants and joined the fun. Cousin Itt was a physics major while Jimi Hendrix was a viola performance major in the conservatory. Wow, science was integrating with music right before my eyes via a Frisbee emblazoned with a peace symbol. And best of all: I had been invited to join in. Obviously this was where I belonged. Goodbye University of Rochester; hello Oberlin College!

Becoming a physician was an unscheduled event!

I DIDN'T PLAN TO ATTEND MEDICAL SCHOOL. My interests entering college centered on plant biology, French and classical piano performance. My Oberlin experience honed my skills in la langue de Molière, as well as Astérix et Tintin, via classes and a winter term immersion program in Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, Québec. Although I may never have become a true Francophone, I continue to be an active Francophile (bisettes et crêpes suzette à tous).

As for piano, despite my weekly lessons at the conservatory and giving a number of recitals in Warner Concert Hall, I reluctantly came to the realization that neither Rubinstein nor Horowitz would be dethroned from the stages of the world's great concert halls by my fearlessly flying fingers. Nonetheless, even today I continue to tickle the ivories at every opportunity.

Oberlin carefully nurtured my interest in science. A recent addition to the chemistry faculty, Dr. Dennis Luck, invited me to become his honors student and work in his laboratory my senior year. (This to me was nearly as shocking as being asked to play Frisbee with Cousin Itt and Jimi Hendrix.) He also encouraged me to consider a career in medicine. Lucky for me, I took his advice. Thank you Dr. Luck!

The HIV/AIDS pandemic was an unscheduled (and unimaginable) event!

I DIDN'T PLAN TO BECOME A CLINICAL IMMUNOLOGIST AND HIV SPECIALIST PHYSICIAN. In fact, HIV hadn't even been discovered when I graduated from medical school and headed west ("go west young man!") to pursue an internship and residency in pediatrics. Despite my love of children, their unbridled optimism and their uncanny ability to recover from enormous medical challenges, I did not find general pediatrics intellectually stimulating. Teaching first-time moms about breastfeeding, shots and shoes just wasn't enough for me.

Consequently, I accepted a postdoctoral fellowship in adult and child clinical immunology and allergy at the University of California San Francisco. Clinical immunology fascinated me, as it was a highly specialized field of medicine that dealt with bizarre and often catastrophic immune-based illnesses. Intellectual stimulation was no longer a problem!

Little did I know that the very first cases of what we would eventually come to know as AIDS would arrive on San Francisco's hospital wards during my training. That an epidemic of immunodeficiency would soon fall upon us like a killer tsunami was beyond any of our worst imaginings. I became an HIV specialist by choice, but also by serendipitously being in the right place at exactly the wrong time.

Becoming "virally enhanced" was definitely an unscheduled event!

I DIDN'T PLAN TO EXPERIENCE HIV FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE EXAMINATION TABLE. The virus found me while I was working. In January 1991, while performing a routine procedure on a patient with advanced-stage AIDS, I sustained a hollow-bore needle stick and laceration. Despite taking antiretroviral medication immediately, I seroconverted to HIV positive. (Note to self: Blog about seroconversion and acute retroviral syndrome.)

Redirecting my medical career was an unscheduled event!

I DIDN'T PLAN TO RETIRE FROM CLINICAL PRACTICE AT AGE 44. "Positively charged," I suddenly found my life divided into before and after. I had crossed the line from one who provides care to one who would eventually need care. Having the eyes and mind of an HIV specialist physician, but the body and soul of an HIV/AIDS patient, provided me with a unique perspective on this modern day plague. HIV/AIDS in January 1991 was a death sentence with a prognosis of perhaps 10 years at best. By 1995 my health began to crumble as my immune system deteriorated. I resigned from my large clinical practice as an AIDS specialist and medical director of an oncology-immunology infusion and research center at a large multispecialty medical group. I retained my academic credentials and affiliation with Stanford University Medical Center where, as an assistant clinical professor of medicine in the Division of Immunology and Allergy, I taught medical students, residents and postdoctoral fellows. I refocused my professional endeavors on teaching and raising awareness of the burgeoning HIV/AIDS pandemic. (Note to self: Blog about the need for HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.)

Producing Web-based, peer-generated HIV/AIDS awareness via a Web-video competition, helping victimized Congolese women and young girls and providing clean needles to drug addicts were unscheduled events!

I DIDN'T PLAN ON FOUNDING A NON-PROFIT CHARITABLE FOUNDATION. In 1996, my life partner Dr. Steven Natterstad and I unknowingly planted the seed for what would become the Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation when we performed a private HIV/AIDS piano benefit concert in our home in Los Altos, California.

The overwhelming success of that initial intimate musical soirée led to the launch of a series of benefit concerts entitled "A Concerted Effort" and ultimately to the formation of the Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation, whose sole mission is to provide crucial services for men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS worldwide and to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic through advocacy and education. The foundation to date has raised well over $1,500,000 for global AIDS crucial services, ranging from AIDS hospice care in Los Angeles to support of a clean-needle-exchange program in Washington, D.C., to the provision of anti-HIV medication to HIV-infected pregnant women in Africa thereby helping to prevent transmission of the virus to their newborns.

The foundation's most recent project involves a collaborative effort with a generic medicine pharmaceutical company and the non-profit Global Strategies for HIV Prevention to provide treatment for women and girls who have been raped by militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Every day, 50 to 75 women and girls are raped in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. It is estimated that two-thirds of the rapists are infected with HIV. The foundation will help provide medications to the victimized women and girls for the prevention and treatment of HIV, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

One last unscheduled event!

I DIDN'T PLAN ON USING THIS PHOTO. But trust me, it's way cuter than the one of me standing in front of the Frascino Medical Group and the Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation offices. I'm the short guy on the left; Steve is on the right. Life partners for the past 16 years, we were legally married in 2008, getting hitched on Halloween in a hastily arranged mass ceremony just in time to beat the evil California Proposition 8. The officiant who performed our service was dressed like Mr. Spock in a Star Trek costume. We plan to "live long and prosper." So far, so good. Our personal motto remains: "Every day above ground is a good day." We know life, love, illness, opportunity and other unscheduled events will continue. We welcome their challenges.

Presto Frascino-Natterstad, center in the photograph, is the immediate past president of California Canines for Obama and of the canine chapter of the No-On-Proposition 8 campaign as well as the current president of California Canines for Condoms (in which capacity he continues to work tirelessly promoting safer sexual practices among horndogs worldwide). (Note to self: Will showing Presto's penis result in an X-rating for my blog?)

OK, that's it! As soon as I hit the send button, I'll no longer be a blogger-virgin. (Note to self: Stop writing so many notes to self.)

Happy and healthy 2010 to one and all!

Dr. Bob



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