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Please help! Can't sleep and very worried

Jun 18, 2011

First off, thanks for taking the time to read this. Your site has been of great help in alleviating this anxiety of mine.

Anyhow, I've been dating my boyfriend for a little over a year now. We've had unprotected anal sex three times. Once in October, then in November, and the last unprotected time was in early January. I've been the "giver," but we've never really gone "all the way." These unprotected encounters typically went on for about 4 minutes max and we stopped each other.

About three weeks after the January episode, I developed a weird rash on my chest. It was strictly on the center and about 3 inches in diameter. It itched (I woke up scratching my chest) but was more than anything sensitive to touch (it had a strong burning sensation.) I did not pay much attention to it and neither did my boyfriend. It lasted for about 2 weeks, but then came back on the same spot for about another week. This time, it was significantly smaller but still burned a lot.

I panicked when I Googled this rash and have been living a nightmare since mid February. This smaller version of the rash went away but came back slightly smaller again a third time for about another week. At this point, I had a serious talk with my boyfriend, but he said not to worry unless Id been doing other stuff around, which I havent. He accepted to get tested mid-March and we both tested negative. Although I was slightly relieved, I secretly refused to believe the results. The doctor said my rash was a minor outbreak of shingles. The rash went away and has not returned although I constantly look for it.

About three weeks later (early April), I developed a pretty painful sore throat/minor cold and three swollen lymph nodes on my neck. I panicked even more and started searching for more swollen lymph nodes in my body. I found some behind my knees and one on my forearm and one on the side of the stomach. I literally flew to the doctor, and he told me the lymph nodes on my neck were simply a reaction to my sore throat. The one on my forearm he described as a possible node but he wasnt sure. The one on the side of my stomach he said was a grease ball, which I refuse to believe. He then said the ones behind my knees were only palpable because of my slim, fit frame, which I also refuse to believe because I had never felt them (maybe because I had never looked for them? I dont know) I really feel Im going MAD! My boyfriend seems to have no stress at all, which Ive questioned, and he simply thinks Im being paranoid. I feel kind of bad because Ive questioned him a lot, and hes been very supportive throughout by accompanying me to my doctor and taking my paranoid calls at night throughout my apparently crazy ordeal. Ive even gotten to the point where I pretend to give him a massage and secretly look for swollen lymph nodes but have found nothing. My boyfriend and doctor both feel I have trust issues, which I do agree to. I feel I really need help!

Are the symptoms Ive described consistent of HIV? (the rash, nodes, etc) I have not had any fevers or any other symptoms. My swollen nodes have one been on my neck, on my forearm, and behind my knees.

THANK YOU SO MUCH! Also, how may I donate to your foundation? Thank you! THANK YOU!

Response from Dr. Frascino


Your boyfriend, your doctor and you feel you have trust issues and really need help. I absolutely agree.

Both you and your boyfriend tested HIV negative in mid-March. Why would you "secretly refuse to believe the results"? I agree it was unwise to have unprotected sex. Fortunately this lapse in judgment did not result in HIV transmission. (You both tested HIV negative.)

Your symptoms are not worrisome for or suggestive of HIV acute retroviral syndrome (ARS).

Your fears are completely unwarranted and totally irrational. I strongly urge you to seek consultation with a licensed mental health professional to help you confront and conquer your HIV paranoia. HIV is not your problem. Fear of HIV is! Check out the chapter in the archives entitled "I'm Positive I'm Positive." You'll see you are not alone in having these types of fears.

Donation information for The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation can be found on the foundation's Web site at Thanks for your support!

Good luck. Be well.

Dr. Bob

Dear Dr Bob, Please Humor Me

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