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Large nodes, lies, and AIDS Phobia. (HIV OMENS, 2011)

Aug 18, 2011

Hi Dr. Bob,

I'm the guy with the unbroken condom and the harmonica hummer ("Risk from Unbroken Condom and Harmonica-Style Oral," Aug 4, 2011).

First, thank you for all you're doing. Reading your blog and your forum are slowly helping to change my unrealistic perception of HIV, and I can only hope that one day I can be as clear-headed about it as you are.

Until that day, though, I have these fears.

I've never felt my nodes before (I've never looked), and I've recently lost 25 lbs. (all to diet and exercise, of that I'm sure). One of the lymph nodes in my groin, on the right side, is larger than what I asume is its counterpart on the left. The larger one is about the size of a pea, but is not visible to the naked eye, moves easily, and does not hurt even if I press it really hard. I can't tell if it's hard, because I don't know what a normal node feels like, but this one is like pushing the cartilage on the side of your nose. I've had no other symptoms of illness except for a mild sore throat that began the day after my encounter and disappeared last Thursday (off and on in between).

1). Does that sound like a normal node? 2). Is it alright for a node on one side to be slightly larger than its counterpart? 3). How worried should I be about this node?

On a more neurotic note, I've read a lot of stories (some on this forum), where one partner knew their positive status and kept it from the other partner. Before we had sex, I asked my partner if he was negative and he said yes. Afterwards, I asked him again, and he said yes. I know you can't believe a self-report, but I asked anyway. He then said that he had been tested one month ago and "of course it was negative" (the of course is because he practices safe sex apparently). But after reading those stories, I got worried, and I called him and asked him point blank if he was one of those people who lied about a poz status and if he had lied to me. He laughed--thought I was being silly--and said he wasn't lying and that he was negative.

4). How likely is it that he is lying to me about his status?

Finally, Dr. Bob, I have an unrealistic relationship with HIV. I've started looking for omens in the magazines I read, things my parents say, or even movies. Last night I watched Tim Burton's Corpse Bride because I was afraid it was a proper allegory for my contracting HIV, and therefore if I didn't watch it, I would only be falsely trying to deny my fate, thereby being an even bigger, more ironic, allegory. (Turns out the guy doesn't end up dead at the end, screwing up my predicted allegory). I have all these superstitions about my window-period, and I ultimately feel that if I ignore my fears about HIV during the window period, then I'll be setting up a more poetic irony that would justify my testing positive (e.g. It would make a better story if I didn't worry and tested positive, than if I worried and didn't).

5). I have AIDS-Phobia Dr. Bob. How can I get over it and develop a more rational, reasonable outlook on HIV?

Thank you again.

Response from Dr. Frascino


1. Yes.

2. Yes.

3. Not at all.

4. I have absolutely no idea. Personally, even if someone whipped out a lie detector and strapped it to his Mr. Happy, I still wouldn't believe his self report regarding HIV status. It's important to note that one out of every five HIV-positive Americans have no idea they are infected!

5. I strongly suggest you consult a licensed mental health professional to help you cope with your irrational fears. Searching for omens reveals a deep-seated obsession with HIV. I doubt you'll be able to resolve this issue without professional help. See below for link to others who also feared HIV omens.

Dr. Bob

Risk from Unbroken Condom and Harmonica-Style Oral Aug 4, 2011

Thank you and advice to Worried Wells Feb 18, 2008


On going worry about hiv infection. I need your help

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