Sex Education Classes Scarred Me For Life; I am a nervous wreck. (ANOTHER FLUFFERNUTTER CONVINCED THEY HAVE HIV, 2010)
Hi Dr. Frascino, First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to respond to my question(s). As others have already noted, you have a great sense of humor. I thoroughly enjoy reading your responses to the others' questions; they are not only educational but personal. You certainly have a great touch.
I am a 24 year old female. While I do knock them for "scarring me for life", I did learn a great deal from the required sex education classes during my high school years. The reason I say they have scarred me for life is because I remember the teacher saying over and over and over again: "The most common symptom of HIV is that there is no symptom!"
Even though I have yet to be tested, I have essentially been living life as though I were an HIV+ individual for the past 3 years because I have basically convinced myself even without symptoms that I am surely HIV+. Insane, right? Even saying it out loud or "writing it out loud" (in this case), I can't believe my near paranoia.
At the same time, I am so unbelievably scared I could be HIV+ and I don't think that I could handle the truth that I could be HIV+. In a way, I would rather live with the hope that I don't have the virus than live in the reality that I "have" it (but as I have mentioned, my current reality is that I live each day as though I have it; I am too afraid to get close to anyone and I have not engaged in any sexual intercourse with the exception of one blow job, most recently, to someone I was dating and am relatively certain was NOT HIV+).
I am at the point now where I have essentially already planned my life around "living" with the virus (if I do get up enough courage to get tested, some day and do find out I have it). I won't go into anymore detail but I will say that I am living in an anxiety stricken bubble and some days I even have trouble breathing (which I have read is a symptom of HIV, or "lung disease" related to HIV -Great!...Not!). I had sex knowing full well that there were consequences involved. Because I am not on any form of Birth Control, I have always had protected sex (for fear not only of getting HIV or STDs -although condoms don't protect against HPV or so I have been told!-but also becoming pregnant) with the exception of a few times where my boyfriend at the time put his penis on the outer part of my vagina (massaging almost, not really inserting) during foreplay for a few seconds to a minute, without a condom. I have also given blow jobs to him and received cunnilingus from him without any protection (I would also consistently ask him whether he had been tested etc; he would always say yes and that he didn't have anything, I never saw actually written proof though...). I was always faithful and never cheated on him but I came to find out that the scumbag was cheating on me. I don't know much about the other girl(s) (2, I am pretty sure of, possibly more; I do find some solace in the fact that he did talk a lot of game but a lot of the time, that was all he did...talk!).
After we broke up, there was another encounter with a guy (I also asked him if he was free of STDs and HIV and he said yes and that he had been tested, still can never be sure, right, since I never saw proof?). I had protected sex with him except for when I put his penis in my mouth for a few seconds to a minute; there might have been pre-ejaculatory fluid but no cum. My questions:
- How serious is my risk of being HIV+ in light of the information I have given you and now revealing that both of the guys I had sex with were of African-American descent (Reading the reports and the statistics, I understand there is a larger number of African-Americans who are HIV+).
- I am still scared out of my mind and I know I still don't have the courage to take the test even if it has been 3 years. Do you have a national list of counselors who work specifically with HIV patients or those who feel they are at risk for possibly having been infected with HIV? I would like to talk out my fears face-to-face with a mental health care professional and I would like to ensure there would be someone there for me if the result were unfavorable (I think I would prefer one on one contact versus a support group).
- What HIV test should I get? What is the procedure they follow if one is found to be HIV+? What options do they provide, what information do they give or what support do they suggest in most clinics?
- Doesn't saliva kill the virus, when the two come into contact?
Thanks so much for your help, Dr. Frascino.
"Even though I have yet to be tested, I have essentially been living life as though I were an HIV+ individual for the past three years because I have basically convinced myself even without symptoms that I am surely HIV+" WHAT?????? You ask: "Insane, right?" To which I can only reply: "Absofrickenlutely!"
You state you can't believe your "near paranoia." What do you mean "near"??? Sweetie, it seems to me those sex education classes not only scared the bejesus out of you, but they also turned you into a certified fluffernutter. ". . . I have essentially already planned my life around living with the virus"??? Yep, total fluffernutter!
"I am living in an anxiety stricken bubble . . . ." No argument there. I totally agree. Your difficulty breathing is related to your anxiety, not HIV!
Turning now to your specific questions:
Protected sex is indeed protected. Assuming the latex condoms were used properly and did not fail (break), your HIV-acquisition risk would be negligible.
Any competent psychiatrist should be able to help you confront your totally unwarranted and completely irrational fears.
An HIV-antibody test (EIA, ELISA or rapid test). If this test is positive, they will run a confirmatory test (Western Blot). Pre/post-test counseling and support services vary from office to office and among testing clinics as well.
Saliva inhibits HIV somewhat.