Are my Safe Sex techniques going too far?? Others should read too.
Oct 11, 2012
Hi Dr. Wohl, I'm sharing my story so hopefully your response can help educate myself and others. First off, I am a male, 30 somthing, hetero and of negative status. I have just come out of isolation for more than over a year ago from a tramatic experiance from getting a false positive result. Since then, this site has dramatically educated my knowledge of HIV and other STD's although I had always practiced safe sex.
Here is my story: I was tested about a year and some months ago for a job. It was my first HIV test in 16 years. Prior to that test, I had one safe sex encounter with a female also of negative status 98 days before. However, when I was called to receive my results, I remember the Doctor reading my results backwards to me, and scaring the mess out of me. He specifically said, "Well, your negative, but positive at the same time"(pos EIA WB negative, Zero Bands)He further told me from this point on, I should consider using condoms. I told him I did use condoms and he smiled, and said "Right...we all make mistakes." I left feeling completely lost and scared, and he said he had never seen this testing result in all but 2 patients in his entire career. This was a low income Health Clinic, and as I walked out the office he and his Lab Technicians were smirking and giggling. (I guess playing on my fear and reaction)
I did not believe I had aquired any disease, but stress and anxiety put me through all the classic symptoms. I spent the next several months testing and testing, took a viral load, and continued to test after that due to my lack of knowledge on the testing process. I went to different labs, had to deal with different bias opinions and the more I tested, the more false positives I occassionally got (Even after getting a negative viral load 7 months out) The lab tech was still pinning me in a corner asking me if I just had a "drunk night" I don't recall and even asked me If I secretly sleep with other men. (Again--I am hetero)I lost my mind and it was until then I started educating myself and I printed some archives directly from this site and marched up to my Doctors Office and just handed them the articles on Viral Load testing, false positives, WB and so on. The lab tech said that in her 12 years of drawing blood. THE BODY---YOUR WEBSITE, enlightened her on information about HIV and Testing she was unaware of and basically told me I do not need to test any further because she guesses I'm negative. (This is the truth I am speaking to you here, making this up has NO benefit to me or other readers)But the damage was already done and I still sought psychological counsling from HIV counsling group sessions, Hotlines and this website. I stopped trusting the test, I stopped trusting doctors, and I stopped trusting condoms. I remained abstinent for the next several months because I did not really know (or trust) my own status.
Sorry to flood all this info, but this is to help others who are stuck in obsessive testing like myself and chasing a constant fear.
I refused to have any sex until my Elisa would finally showe negative so I can put the fear of "possibly negative or postive" behind me. (I tested again negative Elisa last month too)
So, here is where my troubles start all over again..(yup, you knew it was coming)
I have not cleared my fears and paranoia because of what I've been through. Proffessional counsling helped, but not enough I guess. I just had my first safe sex encounter since I been through this mess, and I think I may have been trying to play it too safe. Before my partner and I did anything, I showed her a PDF attachment of my negative labs that I keep in my smartphone.(last girl hiked it after I told her about my false postive)
So before we even got intimate, I asked to see a copy of her labs, which she did not have. So I said fine, we need to have "The Talk." She was a bit surprised in the heat of the moment, but she welcomed the conversation nonethaless. She advised she was negative for HIV including STD's and is just as serious about protection as I am. She was comfortable about speaking about it so that helped. Still, because I did not see her actual labs (was it wrong to ask?) Before I laid with her, I examined her body, head to toe and checked for any bumps, cuts, abrasions or lesions. There were none. During the duration of intercourse, we agreed not to engage in frottage becuase it made me uncomfortable and is capable of spreading STD's. She was cool with that, but she still she tried protected oral. I shut that down rather quickly. So she at least tried to kiss, I did'nt allow that either. (We pecked previously while meeting for lunch and stuff, but never any deep lip locking)
During the duration of intercourse I positioned myself at a weird angle so that not even my testies would rub or come in contact with her lower vagina lips and none of her fluids would even touch me. She kept asking me if I was virgin or somthing and I kept telling her no. To avoid any other possible skin to skin STD's, I did not even allow our stomachs or legs to rub or touch vigourously. Not to mention my Latex condom was covered ALL THE WAY down my entire head and shaft so not even an inch of skin was exposed. Now, I know this girl, but not well enough so I thought I used good judgement. I paused 3 times to check the condom and make sure it was intact before finishing... the 3rd time I faked as if I thought the condom had broken and I slowly pulled out of her just so I can check it again and examine it closely. Once done, I immediately pulled out, checked the condom AGAIN, and everything was nicely intact and held together. No exchange in saliva, body fluids or even sweat. She wanted to cuddle but I jumped up seconds after and took a hot shower so no micro germs can manifess. She offered me her bar soap, but I refused and used Body Wash instead. She kept asking me what's wrong...Minutes later, when she was showering I ruffled through her garbage can, took out the condom, and did the water test, and held it for 30 seconds to confirm no leaks. She gave me a strange look and basically told me I'm a germaphobic (I am not)but she was'nt laughing this time. I could tell she was annoyed at this point. (maybe offended?) Once I got home, I took another shower, than bathed my genitals in pure rubbing alochol (I've been doing this since I was 18 after each round of vaginal sex)
The next day, I checked off all the rules on my "Safe Sex Checklist" and I felt good until my buddies told me I completely scared her off and possibly even made myself look suspicious. (that does make sense) I'm NO goody goody, and trust me I have done plenty of high risk things in my past (deep kissing, nipple sucking etc.) But it's differnt now considering what I went through. So My final question is: What did I do wrong this time?? This is what The Body and Safer Sex Techniques advise, correct? I admit, I would have done the same safe sex practices no matter if she was a virgin or prostitute. But getting a false positive was a tramatic experiance and I haven't been the same since. So did I not do enough to protect myself or did I really over do it? Should I test again for the next 12 months? Basically to sum it up, this is the exact reason I stayed abstinent when this happend last year but I'm am a guy, I love women, and I'm only human. I'm just trying to find the right balance and get back to a normal, "extra safe" sex life.
Sorry for the overload Dr. Wohl but thanks so much for your time and all you do!
Response from Dr. Wohl
Wow. I am exhausted just reading your email. Yes, you are going too far (way). It sounds like there is a huge neurotic component here as you are going beyond what are reasonable measures and it is interfering with an important aspect of your life.
I would relate this episode to your mental health professional.
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