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To All Worried Wells....Please Read!

Jun 13, 2011


This message is to all the worried well. I had a low risk exposure with a friend. 4 days later I decided to go for a full checkup. One week later I received a call to go back because my HIV test result came back inconclusive. My doctor advised that I needed to repeat the test 4 weeks later to rule out infection. I thought I was having a nightmare. One week after receiving my inconclusive result I woke up with the worst flu, joint pain, fever, thrush, yeast infection, swollen glands, bumpy rash, sores in my mouth¡Kyou name it I had it. By this time I had convinced myself that I have HIV. I cried and cried waiting for the 4th week to come so I can go get tested again. After 4 weeks from the initial test I finally went and got tested. My test came back the same (inconclusive) but they ruled out HIV due to PCR testing and no changes to my serological test. I was so happy to hear the good news. But the joy didn¡t last for too long. I had read you need to wait 3 months to get a conclusive result and since I was still suffering from swollen glands and yeast infection I decided to wait until 6 months to get tested. This was a very dark period of my life, the waiting, and the anxiety was horrible. Finally after 6 months I got the courage to get tested again, same results. The doctor reassured me that I was Hiv negative and whatever that was causing my symptoms it was not HIV. Free at last¡K.but not for long. I start getting weird lesions on my body, with blue marks on my legs and nails. My swollen glands were getting worse too. So the thought of the lab doing a mistake on my test started running through my head. I couldn¡t see anything other than HIV. I became a regular caller on HIV hotline asking the same questions over and over again. I was going crazy. I decided to write Dr Bob. I explained my story to him with all the lab tests and he reassured me as well that it wasn¡t Hiv. I found myself reading his response 10 times a day in order to calm my nerves. But I knew I couldn¡t live like this, worrying all the time. At this point though, my anxiety had become so bad that I felt like I can¡t control my thoughts. It was an obsession I couldn¡t stop. After 15 months of suffering with negative thoughts I decided to go to CDC and get tested once again and I knew that for sure by this time my test result would be accurate. I spoke with a nurse who counseled me after explaining my story and finally got me tested and GUESS WHAT¡KI was NEGATIVE! I sat there and cried. I knew this time that I was ready to finally let go of HIV. I realized that I had to really dig within and find out what was causing me to have such fear about something that had nothing to do with HIV. After a week, all my symptoms disappeared as well. The mind is very powerful. Now I am working on myself spiritually. Please believe in your results. Thank you Dr. Bob for everything that you are doing on this website to help the worried wells. You compassion is much appreciated.

Response from Dr. Frascino


Thanks for taking the time to write in and share your story and the great news of your definitive negative HIV test results. I want to point out several common themes in your post that relate to many others in similar situations:

1. You describe your risk as "low risk." Low risk would mean a very low probability you could acquire the virus.

2. Symptoms began with in days of the potential exposure. The symptoms associated with HIV acute retroviral syndrome generally manifest two to three weeks (not days) after exposure.

3. Inconclusive results are not positive results! Most are falsely reactive (false positive).

4. Being "convinced" you have HIV and actually having HIV are two very different things.

5. Fear of being HIV infected often overwhelms common sense. You had definitive HIV-negative tests long ago (at the time of your undetectable PCR and indeterminate serological tests that didn't change over a four-week time span).

6. All your symptoms magically disappeared shortly after you finally believed your definitive negative test results!

I'm hopeful your story will help others still trapped in their self-induced worried-well hell. You wasted a good 15 months of your life worrying over a condition you did not have. Others have wasted even more time. I urge WWs (worried wells) to heed your advice.

Be well. Stay well.

Dr. Bob

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