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Is my doctor correct??
Jul 1, 2001

Dear Dr. Aberg,

I want to first thank you for the valuable service that you provide both here and in private practice. It is appreciated more than you know.

Here is my situation and could you please tell me my doctor is behind the "HIV" times.

I was seperated from my husband of 11 years for about 8 months. During this time I went on vacation with friends and met a man. We ended up having sex and I provided the condom knowing that the world is very different than it was when I was single 15 years ago. Due to the amount of alcohol we had both consumed, his penis was flaccid and when he withdrew, the condom slipped off. I do not know whether he ejaculated or not.

Upon returning I was uncomfortable with the risk involved so I had the following tests done..DNA PCR @ 5 weeks, HIV1/2 @ 13 weeks. Both negative/undetectable plus a negative STD panel.

Now my husband and I have reconciled and I was honest with him. I showed him the negative test results and we both spoke with the testing center and the GMHC. Both organizations said that I was done testing. Situation over right? WRONG!

I go to my physician for a physical and explain the situation. Frankly, he was quite judgemental telling me that I was extremely irresponsible and that there was still a very high chance that I could be infected and given this to my husband. He stated that a 6 month test is the ONLY way to know.

Now I am panicked, sick to the point of not sleeping or eating. I thought I was doing the right thing. These other organizations stated based on my risk and the combination of these tests that I was in the clear. Now I don't know. Please tell me if he (my physician) was correct in that. I would never be able to live with myself if I did give something to my husband.

Signed,

Very scared and extremely confused in CT.

Response from Dr. Aberg

How about a yes and no for an answer? The guidelines recommended by the Center for Disease Control state that HIV antibody testing be offered at 4-6 weeks, 12 weeks and 6 months after exposure. Having said that, most would agree that absence of HIV viral load by PCR at 5 weeks and a negative antibody test at 12 weeks means you did not acquire HIV. Your doctor is following the guidelines and wants to ensure that you are in fact negative.

I cannot comment on your physician's mannerism but no healthcare provider should be judging someoneone's behaviors or lifestyles. We are here to offer assistance. Could it be that you overreacted because of feeling guilty? It is not uncommon for people to be upset with themselves when we put ourselves at risk. We wind up judging ourselves. We have all been in situations that retrospectively, we wished it was different. That is part of life. None of us are perfect and we take chances everyday.

I would like to say that you had the right intentions. You had sex using a condom and they are not 100% depending on the circumstances. You sought out appropriate care immediately and had yourself screened not only for HIV but other more commonly acquired STD's. You discussed this with your husband which is something many people are afraid to do.

So stop panicking. I would recommend you get your six month test but in the mean time, stop beating yourself up. Move forward and work on your current relationship with your husband.


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