I am suffering from an acute case of HIV anxiety. I don't know what to do.
To give a background, I was in a completely monogamous relationship for eleven years. A few months ago, unfortunately, my wife and I split up. I went to Thailand for some relaxation and ended up doing something very stupid. I picked up a sex worker and had sex with her. I used a condom for most part, including all penetrative acts. From the next morning onwards, I started suffering from HIV anxiety. I spent the rest of my holiday either reading up on HIV or worrying about it. I posted on the HIV forum where I was told that I have no risk whatsoever because of the protection I used. It soothed my nerves for a bit, but after a couple of days I started having doubts about exactly when I put on the condom. Doubts continued to breed further doubts. But after a lot of thinking, I am pretty sure that the condom was on during any potential risk situation.
Despite that, I am unable to shake myself off the fear. The thought of being in contact with a potential HIV virus with nothing but a thin sheet of rubber separating me is very scary. I feel stupid for having put myself in such a risky situation. I feel guilty about letting down my parents and those who love me. I feel like crying. I am worrying all the time, almost sure that I have the virus although any logical thought tells to the contrary. I am checking for early HIV symptoms ten times a day.
Is this sort of doubt normal behaviour for someone suffering from anxiety? What can one do to overcome this? Any help from anyone would be highly appreciated. Pls, help me get out of this.
I am so sorry that you are going through such a tough time at the moment, but i am here to tell you that you are not alone and there is help for you.
Firstly, i have to state that by what you have wrote, it sounds very much like you did protect yourself and the risk of contracting HIV is extremely unlikely. A condom may be a thin sheet of rubber but it does a wonderful job of preventing infections and keeping both parties safe. Also, did the Lady worker encourage you to use a condom or wasn't she that concerned? I ask because if she encouraged it or even had her own, that tells me that she is aware of keeping herself well and therefore is less likely to have contracted the virus.
So, as for your peace of mind this is what i would suggest if you came to my clinic, i would encourage you to have a full STD routine screen, arrange a counseling session with the HIV counsellor to discuss your fears, go over the possible outcome of the results and to ask any and all questions you have. Then to have the HIV blood test on the same day as the counseling session if you both agree, you and the counsellor, this is the best for you, which i personally feel it would be. The results roughly take 2 weeks to return and the most reliable test result is a blood sample taken roughly 3 months after first contact. So work out when you had this sexual encounter and work from there.
Just to add though that HIV really isn't the death sentence it use to be, there are a vast amount of drug combo's on the market and these allow patients to lead a normal, healthy lifestyle. One that can allow the person to have a normal sex life, relationships etc......
So, to put yourself out of this misery please think about getting yourself thoroughly checked over and believe me you will feel a whole heap better once the tests come back fine and dandy. Then you can put this in the past and start a fresh chapter in your life. Good-luck and all the best.
Thanks for your reply. Actually, the first thing she asked me was if I had a condom. And she had put it on me before any penetrative act. I think she is aware of HIV risks and was trying to keep herself safe.
I had this encounter just ten days back, so I need to wait for almost 3 months before I can get myself tested. Are you suggesting a test because you perceive high risk? The people in the HIV forum told me quite categorically that I was under No Risk.
I will take your advice and get myself tested after 3 months. Till then, is there anything I can do to keep my mind at peace?
No, i don't perceive you should take a test cause i think you are at high risk, i actually think qiute the opposite. I suggested it to help put this anxiety to rest and for you to continue with your life and start enjoying your life again.
Plus the fact that this lady was very aware of protection and made you use it tells me that she wants to be safe too. Remember this is her living and it does not serve her well if she becomes ill through it.
Just think logically about this, cross all the t's and dot the i's and i think you will see for yourself your at no risk. Also maybe it may help if you could talk to either your doctor or a close friend about this to confirm everything everyone has been saying.
The test is there if after 3 months your still not convinced, but i would say it would be 3 months completely working yourself up and making yourself ill for nothing.
HIV Anxiety is very commonplace amongst people who have put themselves in a situation that they later regret and feel guilty about. From what you describe....you are suffering from a high level of anxiety....from the constant "what-iffing" to thinking irrational thoughts despite knowing they are irrational. The constant worrying and ruminating....the need to check for symptoms....and research the virus on the net...all of that is consistent with HIV Anxiety. HIV Anixety is very treatable, just like any other anxiety disorder. The fact that this has become all consuming for you and is affecting your life should indicate for you that it is time to seek some professional help to assist you in moving forward and putting this whole incident behind you.
The actual "exposure" itself posed NO risk to you whatsoever. Condoms work and prevent HIV if they do not fail....and if a condom DID fail you wouldnt miss it....it isn't something that is vague...they break catastrophically. You don't require any testing based on this encounter...however, if you think it would be helpful in allowing you to move on....have an antibody blood test (ELISA) at about 6-8 weeks post the incident. A negative result at that time (for those who DID have a risk) is an EXCELLENT indication of the final outcome, as a vast majority of people exposed to the virus that will end up seroconverting (become HIV +) will have produced antibodies at that time...and would yield a positive test at that point. That should ease your mind. A conclusive result (AGAIN, for someone who had a true risk) can be obtained by repeating the test at the 3 month mark.
Do NOT misread my message to you here.....you do NOT need testing whatsoever for HIV...but I can appreciate that many people in this position need the confirmation to help them move on. your HIV tests will be negative.
The most important thing to focus on at this point is NOT what you think may be HIV symptoms...or the "possibility" that you somehow contracted the virus, but rather seeking help for your anxiety before it spirals out of control even more. HIV Anxiety left untreated can lead to a phobia where, before you know it....you are fearing the virus in all aspects of your life...and that can seriously be debilitating. Therefore, it is best if you try to get a handle on it as early as possible.
Hang in there...and feel free to post as often as you want. We're all too familiar with the cycle of anxiety and how scary it is.
Thank you Nurses A and 6572. I can't tell you how glad I am that I found you folks. As well as people like Teak, metalman, Kumar, Lizzie who manage the HIV forum. I had a good evening today, after reassurances from Nurse A. Spent the evening with 2 dear friends. Didn't tell them about my anxiety though or even about the incident. Too ashamed to talk about it, I guess.
The thing is that I have always been a very confident and straight forward guy. Well educated, creative, advertising guy and now even an author. One, I can't believe I acted so stupidly. Two, I can't believe how I have let my mind take complete control over my senses. No amount of rationality or logical reasoning could convince me that I am safe. It could possibly be due to the sudden collapse of my marriage that has dented my confidence a little bit. I guess. It may also have prompted me to search for an instant gratification. I feel guilty about letting my parents down. What if I do contract the virus through this one stupid act? What face do I show them? People who've loved me no matter what, whose hopes and aspirations reside with me, what do I tell them? That I screwed up? I am not scared of death. It's life that scares me.
I think I am reasonably confident now that I am safe. Although, I am still keeping an eye out for any symptoms that come up. Is it really true that about 60-70% HIV infected people show these symptoms within the first 8 weeks? I was under the impression that there are no symptoms for years. I am thinking that if I don't get any symptoms, I'll probably forget about it and not get the 12-week test. Sometime during the year, it'll get done during my annual medical check up anyway. Do you think that's a good idea?
I live in Bangalore in India. I haven't heard of any good counsellor or psychiatrist here. Is there anyone you can recommend? I want to meet someone, not just for the sudden HIV anxiety I have developed, but also to deal with other issues that are on my mind for the last few months. Do you think that this anxiety is in any way connected with other problems in my life/mind?
One can never judge a risk based on symptoms. Some newly infected people never have a one symptom....and others who are convinced that their "symptoms" are HIV related have symptoms due to another, everyday viral infection or some other process. There was a study performed....people who presented to the ER with "ARS" symptoms....convinced they were infected. OVER 99% of those people tested negative for HIV. Therefore....HIV "symptoms" are unreliable. Even if you HAD had a risk, even the most edcuated Infectious Diseases doctor would not recommend you watching for any type of symptoms.
ARS symptoms are also common in about a zillion other illnesses, conditions....including ANXIETY!
Put the symptoms out of your mind....don't look for them, don't research online. The less you do those things...the better your anxiety will be. Every time you google HIV, I guarantee whatever you read probably throws you into a panic....unnecessarily.
So true. Initially, the morning after, I was researching just to ensure that I am ok. I had no reason to doubt my 'safety'. And while I was reading the posts on the HIV forum, I was like 'what's wrong with those guys? why are they so paranoid?'. The more I read, the more paranoid I got. And, guess what, eventually reached the same stage as everyone else where I had to be warned by Teak for excessive posting. I'll take your advice and not look for symptoms anymore. But I'll be in touch with you guys on the forum to let you know how I am feeling, physically and mentally.
I am feeling slightly better than yesterday, mentally. When I do get an anxiety attack, I just go through replies to my posts and feel better. I have also thoroughly tried to recollect the sequence of events of that night and am confident that things should be ok. There was some unprotected genital apposition (which Dr HHH has said holds zero HIV risk), and about 8-10 seconds of protected penetration which again means zero risk. From all logical perspective, it seems I should be ok. Plus, what you said about the lady being careful herself is an added layer of safety.
The 'what iffs', as Nurse 6572 mentioned, tend to come into the mind and play havoc. What if I don't remember everything clearly? But then there's no reason to believe I won't remember something as catastrophic as that. Yes, I was being stupid, but I was also conscious and aware of what was happening. Do you think the 'what iffs' are just plain insecurity rather than something that the subconscious mind is aware of which I am not?
Finally, I have this slight throat irritation for the last 8 days. It's not a major cause of discomfort for me, but I know that the slight throat infection is there. It tends to shift from the left to the right of my throat. I can feel it mostly when swallowing saliva. There's a slight bit of cough which comes and goes. In tropical countries like ours, this is quite common. But, under the circumstances, I am tending to imagine that the virus is trying to attack while my system is creating antibodies to fight it. I know I have been told by you and everyone else not to look for symptoms. And I am not looking for anymore symptoms. But this throat infection is not helping me relax.
"Do you think the 'what iffs' are just plain insecurity rather than something that the subconscious mind is aware of which I am not? "
The "what ifs" are solely a symptom of anxiety....and a VERY common one. Pretty much anyone who suffers from ANY form of anxiety experiences that. Just to give you an example....if a person has extreme anxiety and panic attacks, they will constantly "what if"...."What if I have a panic attack in the grocery store?"...."What if my car breaks down and I have a panic attack?"...."What if I have a PA and faint/die/have a heart attack...etc". A person with social anxiety may "what if" about different things..."What if Im in front of a group of people and get can't think of anything to say?"..."What if I say something stupid and everyone laughs as me?"...."What if people think Im ugly?"..."What if Im eating in front of my friends and get sick to my stomach and vomit in front of everyone?"
You see? The "what ifs" are a BIG part of anxiety....and until you start working on your anxiety....those kinds of thoughts will most likely stick around for a while. That is a totally normal aspet of being anxious.
I in a huge stress there days, don't know what to do and what to say. For the first time in my life I went of a CSW in Hong Kong. I red a lot about HIOV in Hong Kong and the statistics says up to 4000 HIV cases has been recorded and also CSW is kind of legal thing in Hong Kong too. it also says around 200000 sex worker in Hong Kong. Any way I had a protected vaginal sex and these was no fore plays. She was very careful about her self too. At the beginning she said I can not kiss her vagina and lips. and I didn't too. Then we had vaginal sex with condom on. After I ejaculated she remove the condom and wipe the head of the Penis with a dry tissue. soon after that I went bath room and wash the Penis, that was a very brief washing may be 15 seconds. I now always some vaginal fluids accumulates at the base of the Penis and due to the brief washing fluids can move in to urethra or may be under the fore skin. Then may be with post *** it can move in to urethra.
I'm married and my wife live in a another country, we haven't being together for months now and next month she is coming. I don't know what to do. HIV prevention group said that I don't have ant symptoms but I'm dying thinking about it. If it is not possible why is that?
Please help me to relax my mind. I can not work these days, even working hour I am searching webs gives data on these type of exposures. It seems my Personal and professional life is sinking down. Please help me
Like A said...there is really nothing we can add. You are suffering from anxiety, and most likely your "symptoms" are due to that. YOU DID NOT HAVE AN HIV RISK...YOU DO NOT HAVE HIV. There is no other simpler way to say it. Guilt is your problem. You need to find some professional help for the anxiety. You need to put this behind you. AGAIN....YOU NEVER HAD A RISK FOR HIV, PERIOD.
I'm having the same kind of anxiety. I'm retracing my whole life to wonder if I have HIV because I've had excessive vaginal discharge for awhile. I'm waiting on the test results. Do children automatically get tested for HIV or does the parent need to give consent at the hospital? I dated a guy for a year and his daughter had pneumonia twice (once when we started dating and then again when we broke up, both in winter). I figured it was because she spent every other week with her mom, and both her mom and grandma who she lived with were chain smokers in the house. They also didn't enforce brushing teeth and let her eat whatever she wanted (usually candy). But he's from France (since he was 9) and used to be a coke addict but is scared of needles so he snorted it. But the more I think about it, I was beyond idiotic to get in a relationship with such a loser. I had been diagnosed with HSV-1 but have only had the initial outbreak in 2008 and no recurrent ones. He never got it from me and we never used a condom just birth control pills. I feel gross and ashamed now! He claimed when he was in high school he had a threesome in Brazil. Would I have more symptoms other than this vaginal discharge by now if I had HIV? Would he have caught the HSV or at least had HSV-2 by now?! We had sex quite frequently and he never had any sores or anything but I just am doubting the whole thing now. Never date drug users (even ex ones) I figure, they most likely will use again or will have something! Ugh never again, going to stay single for along time.
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