HIV Anxiety Support User Group
Could use an opinion
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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Could use an opinion

Hello all and thank you for what you do.

On Nov. 13 2011, I saw a CSW. She didnt have condoms, but she sent me to a gas station, telling me "we have to be safe". She performed oral with condom, I fingered her, and then we had intercourse for 15 to 20 minutes. Towards the end, when I reached orgasm, my penis came out with the condom still on, but I re-inserted, and then it came out again (still with condom on).  I finally was able to do a couple more strokes to finish and the condom never came off. When I pulled out, the condom seemed fine, but didnt notice *** in it... maybe cause my orgasm was interrupted?  Then it started wrinkling a little and hanging down, but probably because it was drying up and I was losing erection.  She removed the condom with a paper towel and disposed it, so I couldnt inspect anymore.

I felt really guilty because I had never done anything like that.  My now ex-wife had left me for another guy.  It was a difficult time.  About 10 days or so after my encounter with the csw, I started to have night sweats, which would scare me, but then I would see posts here where the sweats are described as being of the drenching kind, and always with a noticeable fever.  Since my night sweats were not like that, it gave me comfort.  The sweats continued (only symptom) on and off for 8 months.  I would have them for a day or two, then they wouldn't come back for weeks or a month.  Some would be very mild (just a damp neck), others would leave my shirt damp on my chest or on my back.  My mattress has a small sweat stain now.  I had considerable anxiety the first couple of months, but never tested because from the posts here I saw that it was not needed. I also saw that sweats could be caused by anxiety and acid reflux, and it so happens that in some of the night sweats I had, I had consumed heavy fatty foods.

I have done much better with the anxiety over all.  The only thing that fuels my anxiety from time to time is that I keep hearing the word HIV out there.  I went back to school to finally get a degree, and in a class, I saw two presentations on HIV, then students talked about a speech by Mary Fisher, then I hear about it on the news, or friends joke about it.  Sometimes I would hear HIV three or four times in one week.  I thought it was just coincidence, so I put it in the back of my mind.  I noticed my tongue is white, but I also read that stress causes dry mouth and white tongue and smoking does, too.  And I do smoke.  I have tried dating, but haven't had sex.  Im normally okay when dating, but at times I worry I could pass on HIV to a nice woman out there, and that fuels my anxiety for a day or so.

A few weeks ago, I called the csw and asked her her status.  She said she was clean and that she uses protection always.  I asked her when was the last time she tested.  She said she got tested when she gave blood (donated or simple HIV test?  I dont know, didnt ask) 3 or 4 months ago. That made me feel a little better.

There are a couple of reasons Im here.  I recognize that my mind may not be acting objectively.  I understand that coming to the forums only fuels anxiety.  But I also thought that maybe be posting my story and just writing it might help me feel better.  I would appreciate opinions from others because as I said, I would like an objective opinion.  Here are the facts as I understand them:
- I dont need testing, cause I never had a risk.  My condom didnt break, because when they break, they do so catastrophically. I would have noticed when my penis came out and when I grabbed it to reinsert it, twice!  I would have known, and she would have known and said something when she removed it.
- Fingering is not a risk.
- The night sweats are a symptom of anxiety, not HIV infection.  They lasted too long (on and off for 8 months) and I never had a fever that I know of.
- My mind is alert to HIV.  Reading or hearing about it is not a sign and does not mean Im infected, it just means that my mind is alert and anxious to it.  
- Symptoms don't mean anything anyway, especially when I was protected.
- I had NO risk.  I dont need an HIV test, I need to move on and put this behind me.

Do I have the facts correct?

As I said, I only get this anxiety from time to time.  So I wanted to post here and share this with you.  I think this will help me.  Sorry for the long post.  And please know that your work here is a blessing to many people.  I wish you a happy holiday and all the best for the new year.  Hope to hear from someone soon.
Avatar m tn
Dear anxiousanon,

You are correct about your assessment of the situation.  Indeed, you had protected sex and therefore no risk with regards to HIV and no need to test.  I know that you are also aware that the vast majority of CSW do not have HIV and that the probability that they get infected from their customers is probably higher than the other way around.  

Now, you don't need facts because you know them all, what you need is to reassure and re-program your mind if you will with respect to HIV and your situation.  

I went through a very similar situation to yours and like you i was listening, hearing, and watching HIV everywhere.  My anxiety was fueled not by the event itself, but due to the fact that i had a false positive at my 90 day mark when i tested.  

How did i overcome my anxiety ? well, I asked myself two questions :
1) i asked my self, what do I need to do, see or feel to really feel confident and secure about the facts ? My answer at the moment was to take another test at another lab.  I'm not recommending you do this, im just telling you what helped me. Again, you don't need testing based on the event you described.

2) how can i make sure that i don't come back to this place within me which is full of fear? this is when i came across the concept of 'positive affirmations' and how it influences your subconscious mind and therefore those negative thoughts regarding your event.

I can tell you that within 3 weeks i stopped thinking negatively with respect to HIV and on the contrary i ended up helping people in my home country.

Your mind and focus are extremely powerful! use it to your advantage.

hope this helps
Avatar m tn
Thank you for your comment viper! This does help and I have been going over the website that you shared.  I think this is exactly what I need.  As you stated, I know the facts, and just need to shift the mind.  Instead of focusing attention to pointless "what ifs" I need to let my mind go to those 'positive affirmations'.  This will help me, especially whenever my mind wonders about the condom or what if the night sweats were.... whatever, you know what I mean.

Im an anxious person as it is.  And its time I took control over irrational fears and enjoy life more.

Thank you again for your words. This is exactly what I need and you have made a difference.  I vow to make this a learning experience that in the end will lead me to live a fuller life and as you have done, perhaps help others as well.

Whoever you are and wherever you are, thank you.  Hope you have a great holiday.
Avatar m tn
Sorry for re-starting this post, but wanted to give an update that hopefully will help others who are suffering of HIV anxiety.

I took the suggestions given to me by viper2012 (read above) to heart. For the last two months I felt the happiest I had in a long time.  Then yesterday, like a bucket of cold water thrown at me, a friend tells me that the CSW I saw was a heavy heroin user and that she had been arrested multiple times for that and for prostitution.  That alone sent my anxiety through the roof! Of course I cannot confirm if she is indeed HIV+, but the mind took control of me again.... this time though.... it was different.

I almost didn't sleep.  I kept thinking again about the exposure and what my life was going to be like if it turned out that I had HIV.  Was I controlling the anxiety?  Sure, for the most part, but what about these moments when I feel like I am going to suffer a panic attack?  Someone mentions HIV, STDs, prostitutes, you name it... After little sleep, and remembering the wise counsel that viper 2012 provided in this post, I decided I was going to test.

During my lunch break, I went to a pharmacy, and bought two Oraquick home tests.  That was my mind thinking "what if I get a false positive, well now I got back up!"  That's 40 bucks I will never see again.  Anyway, I came back to work and during another break, I took the test.  Thinking back, I probably should have waited at home, but I was just sick of not knowing... sick of it.  A lot of people here report that the 20 minute wait was the longest of their lives. I was able to spend that time talking to other people while my result was ready in an empty room I only had the key to.  But I gotta say... as soon as I took the test, I felt this HUGE weight lifted, even though I was still scared.  While waiting, I then started worrying about the reported test accuracy! I laughed for a second at how ridiculous my mind was getting!!!

20 minutes later, I come into the room to read the stick: NEGATIVE.  Another HUGE relief!!!!   Interestingly, before I yelled yeehaaa.... I started crying... Not sure why.  Maybe because life looks so beautiful right now, or maybe because I wasted my time worrying for 15 months over something I don't have... maybe both.  I don't regret taking 15 months to test though... I needed that and I think I will learn to appreciate life a lot more from now on.

Thinking back.... I used a condom, it didn't break, so I had no exposure and thus I didn't need to test.  But my mind needed to see that test.  I'm not recommending anyone who reads this to test if they are anxious, but if you cannot get over the anxiety, I think eventually you will test just like I did.  Once you do, you'll feel a lot better.

I want to thank everyone who posts here helping others.  Your wisdom and support make such a HUGE difference, and I pray that it is repaid to you tenfold!

To everyone else... be safe, use condoms, don't share needles, and if in doubt... test.

And now, time for me to pay it forward, and earn this gift.  How?  Not sure yet, but I most certainly will.
Avatar m tn
You had protected sex correct?
Avatar m tn
Hi Apollo

Correct.  For the longest time my mind kept playing games with the thought of "what if the condom broke."  As much as I read the posts that condom failure is catastrophic, my mind just wouldn't get it.
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