Fear rules and ruins my life in equal measure. OHL? Or something else?


Hi Doctor Bob. THank you for taking this email ( I hope that you do). I am a heterosexual man who is currently living in Central Europe and I am living my life in fear of HIV and STD's. I am a very inadaquate man and I find myself in massage parlours from time to time. I have been in 6 in my life and had vaginal sex on 5 of those occasions, once with oral (protected) and one time I briefly fingered a girl but never actually did anything else. Some would call me pathetic. Every time it was protected though. I have never taken an HIV test because I could not cope with the shame of admitting it to myself and every time I went to these places, I was intoxicated by alcohol. I have complete recall of every occasion and know what was done. I always used a condom (provided by the sex worker) and as far as I am aware, it did not break and was used properly. These girls are professionals after all and know more about themselves than I clearly do. I first went in 2004 and I have been in 1 in 2007, one in 2008 and now just as recently as last weekend. 2010. You must know haw a priest feels now - this is my confession.

I feel all the shame that several of the testimonials on this site have had and I want to put this to bed once and for all. My problem: I currently have white tissue on the side of my tongue (left side) and I am worried that it could be OHL. It is in a cluster but could just be dead skin, there are no hairs protruding from it or anything like that. It si possible that it is where I grind my teeth where I eat and I do occasionally bite my cheeks so there is similar tissue there which I dismissed but should I? There is no pain and it does not scrape off easily if at all. I have scraped a lot and probably should not have but there you go. I probably inflicted more pain on myself. I did not notice it until I went looking of course and I am aware that looking means finding more often than not.

My problems could stem from the fact that I am overweight and drink heavily with regularity, particularly at the weekend alone mostly. I read that alcohol can cause similar problems in the mouth. My diet is also not the best and I eat a lot of bread so perhaps I am worried about nothing over this occurrence. You're the doctor, so any advice will be repeated and I will make a donation to your cause regardless of the eventual outcome of my tests.

I am going to the Doctor or dentist this week for a further look but given my past would you recommend the full tests for HIV and should I have one now or wait 3 months?

I truly hate myself for all I have done and I cannot shake the images from my mind. I have let myself down and cannot tell my family (I am unmarried and have no children so at least I can't kill anyone else) but I cannot go home and face my family. I live abroad because of the shame and yet I repeated the trick here. I cannot go home with this affecting every aspect of my life. My other problem is I do not speak enough of the language here so I will have to go with someone who can translate, I am uncertain if this should be my boss or not given the stigmas attached to this situation. This is awful. I have spent my whole life living a pathetic little fantasy that you grow up meet someone and get married and when it didn't happen for me I became wayward and I will never cope with that even if I have no HIV or OHL or anything else. How could I look any potential partner in the face in the future knowing what I did? I know plenty do it and even while they are married or involved but I swear, if I am clear, then not one drop of alcohol passes these lips again. I was in denial for years and cannot go on living like this. I have gained weight like mad for the last 6 years despite efforts and episodes to fight that problem. So if that is part of the problem or you think it is I would be grateful to know. I am now in my 30's and fear for my future.

Please Help, I need someone to talk to and divulge my problems.

Thank You Dr Bob.



". . . I need someone to talk to and divulge my problems." I couldn't agree more! You do indeed have problems, but I'm nearly certain HIV is not one of them. Certainly fear of HIV is! But remember that a "fear" problem is not a virus problem.

Your HIV-acquisition risk from your six visits to massage-hookers is essentially nonexistent, assuming the latex condoms were used properly and did not break. STDs, including HIV, cannot permeate intact latex. No way. No how.

Your "symptom" is not consistent with HIV-related OHL. Besides, symptoms are notoriously unreliable in predicting who is and is not HIV infected.

If you remain worried despite my reassurance, get a single HIV-antibody test three months or longer after your last massage-nookie. The results will unquestionably be negative. Hopefully this will put your (unwarranted) worries permanently to rest (where they should be!).

As I mentioned above, I'm confident HIV disease is not your problem, but you do indeed have significant problems that require medical attention. They would include alcohol abuse, obesity, irrational fear of HIV and self-esteem issues. Your doctor should be able to help with the alcohol problem and advise you on better nutritional habits. In addition I would suggest you begin a regular exercise program. It will not only improve your mood and help you lose weight, it will also help you look better naked. Finally, I do think you need "someone to talk to." By that I mean a psychiatrist or psychologist to help you with your self-worth and self-esteem issues as well as your irrational fears and depression. You've done nothing wrong by visiting a half dozen massage parlors! In fact you did something very right! You used protection every time you had sex. To that I say BRAVO! If everyone were as conscientious as you, we could stop HIV cold in its tracks!

You have no reason to fear for the future or give up your dream of the white-picket-fence-happily-ever-after marital bliss! I didn't really find mine until I was in my mid-40s!

Thank you for your donation to The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation (www.concertedeffort.org). It's warmly appreciated.

Be well!

Dr. Bob