Irrational Fear Beyond Reason


Hi Dr Bob

I think my younger brother has lost his mind. His fear of HIV has gone way beyond irrational, it's bordering on insane now.

After a potential risk exposure ( unprotected vaginal sex ) my brother took a 3 month antibody test. It was negative. Up until yesterday I thought he was moving on with his life.

He phoned me from work yesterday in a right state, what he told me shocked me and now has me concerned about his mental health.

"What if the nurse that drew my blood for my antibody test was HIV positive her self" he said "what if she was bitter and twisted about her status and wanted to take it out on others" "what if she deliberately infected me out of spite" "what if she switched the fresh needle that I saw her take out of the packet with a contaminated needle, when I had my head turned" " I am so scared I am going to have to wait another 3 months now to get re tested and make sure I watch the needle going in."

I told him he ws being ridiculous, I keep telling him every day, but it's not getting through to him. I want to get him to a councellour. But may be a word or two from you could cure him. He deeply respects what you have to say we both read through your archives during his window period and that helped a lot. Your sense of humour is great and your strength of character is inspirational.

Dr Bob if you ignore the fact that this wouldn't happen in reality. From a clincal point of view could it happen ? Is it possible to inject blood right before drawing blood with out removing the needle. Or would a tiny trace of blood on a needle be enough to infect whilst drawing blood ?

Thank you

Two big fans from the UK


Hello UK fans,

You cannot get HIV infected form having blood drawn for an HIV test. End of story.

As for a "bitter twisted" HIV-positive nurse on a rampage to infect others, well, I'd say you've been watching too much of the late-night sci-fi channel.

If you (or your brother) are "what if-ing" yourself into the loony bin, it's time to get some professional help. Bring a copy of this post to your first visit and show it to your therapist. It will help focus your sessions to confront your irrational fears.

Good luck!

Dr. Bob