HIV Anxiety Support User Group
Can I get some advice?
About This Group:

This support group is for those who are suffering from stress or anxiety associated with uncertain HIV status. HIV anxiety is extremely isolating for those who are going through it, as it is often very difficult to discuss with friends and family members. This group is provided for sufferers of HIV anxiety to discuss their fears in a supportive environment. Those with anxiety over non-HIV STDs are also welcome. For personal advice concerning HIV risk, testing, and prevention, please post in the HIV Prevention Community.

Founded by joggen on October 4, 2009
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Can I get some advice?

Hi, everyone.

Thanks for the support of these communities - they've been very helpful.

Here's a brief look at my sexual history.  I'm 22, bisexual, and have only been sexually active since April, 2007.  My first experience was only oral (male-male / giving and receiving) with no ejaculation in my mouth.  Unfortunately, my first experience also taught me that I have severe HIV and STD anxiety.  I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I was depressed, I had night sweats and mouth ulcers, I lost 15 pounds, and was overwhelmed.  After 8 weeks I went to the doctor and broke down in her office and started bawling.  I was put on Zoloft and subsequently tested negative after 8 weeks - conclusive.  My life was given back to me by my incredible doctor and her compassion.

Fast forward to December, 2008 and January, 2009.  I felt ready to resume sexual activity.  In December all I did was mutual masturbation, and in January I had mutual masturbation and received oral sex.  

The most recent activity was May, 2010, and it was deep kissing, receiving unprotected oral sex, and giving protected oral sex (male-male).

From what I understand from all of my research on the forums, I have never put myself at risk for HIV.  Unfortunately, after my most recent experience in May, out of some divine comedy, I developed a case of very persistent jock itch that has put me in a bit of an anxious state.  The jock itch is still there, and I've been to the doctors about it.  Mind you, I'm not NEARLY as anxious as I was back in '07.  I can still function and live happily.  But, even though I never put myself at a risk I can't help but let HIV keep slipping into my thoughts . . .

Does anyone have any advice on how to curb this anxiety?  Logically, I was never at risk.  But, in reality, I can't convince myself otherwise.  Were it not for this itch, I wouldn't find myself slipping back into old anxious habits.  What do you all think?

Thanks, everyone.  I appreciate the help.
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2 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
First of all, jock itch has absolutely nothing to do with HIV- did you read something on the Internet that suggests jock itch is a sign of HIV? You can't judge your HIV status based on jock itch or anything else except a blood test.

It may be that MSM activities make you inherently nervous (considering your first episode of HIV anxiety), and the jock itch was just a trigger for your anxiety. It's good that you got treated for your original episode of anxiety from a doctor, but SSRIs just treat the symptoms and not the underlying thought processes that are responsible. A therapist can help you understand what is making you nervous by helping you to identify these thoughts. You have been visiting MH for three years, and should understand what the true risks for HIV are at this point. If you can't accept that your activities are no risk, you should see a therapist to help you figure out why.
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Avatar_m_tn
Joggen, thanks for the response!

I think you're right.  MSM activities do make me more nervous than those of a heterosexual nature and "trigger" my HIV anxiety; even if I've only ever participated in safe activities (at least in regards to HIV).  From researching various resources and reading the forums, I'm well aware that the only definitive answer is an HIV test.  Unfortunately, this goes back to the battle between my logic and emotions.  If my body experiences a "symptom" I tend to get anxious.  I just need to think logically to help myself: a lot of people have sex, and a lot of people who happen to be sexually active also get jock itch.

I think you're right about needing to seek professional help.  If my logical side knows that I've never put myself in danger, yet my emotional side is disturbed, I need to figure out why.

Just to answer your question about the jock itch, I had read that advanced HIV can lead to increased fungal skin infections such as jock itch.  But, considering that I've only been sexually active for 2 years since my last negative result, advanced HIV simply wouldn't be the culprit from what I understand.

Thanks again for the help!
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