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HIV, OCD, and Alcohol
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HIV, OCD, and Alcohol

Three weeks ago I had about 10 drinks over three hours at a hotel bar. It was a Monday night so I was the only person in the bar, and I left at closing time (1 am) so there would have been no reason for anyone to have been on the floor of the hotel the bar was on. The bar was at the end of a hallway, and the bathroom and elevator were right next to it, so I wouldn't have left this area. I remember my last drink, but I dont remember leaving the bar or returning to my room. I woke up around 3 or 4 in the morning in my room.

I am obsessing about the possibility of contracting HIV while I was blacked out. I woke up with no signs of a sexual encounter. I had showered before going to the bar, so when I woke up I was actually immaculately clean, again with no pains or any sign of a sexual encounter. I am a heterosexual male, with no homosexual experience, so I think if I had had a risky encounter (anal sex) I would have some sensation of it, but I am not sure. I did have some irregularities in my bowel movements the next day, but that could have been because of the excessive alcohol intake and the the fact that I had eaten next to nothing the previous day. The bathroom near the hotel bar is a trigger for me, I'm worried of having stopped to use the restroom, and encountered someone in the bathroom who initiated an encounter.

I have a history of obsessing over HIV from low-risk and no risk sexual encounters. I have been tested about 8 times in the past. I have had blackouts from drinking in college, but this is my first time obsessing about HIV when I'm not even sure I had an exposure. I also have a history of major depression, bi-polar disorder, and substance abuse. I know I'm not supposed to drink, but I sneak a drink every now and again even though I know I shouldn't. This is my first time blacking out in a number of years, and it is having a very discouraging effect on my feelings about alcohol.

I'm obviously looking for everyone to say "No, you did not have sex, you do not have to get tested for HIV." The window period factor of HIV testing is really bothering me, as I obsess all day every day about this, and I am trying to avoid spending the next 3 weeks until my first reasonably conclusive result worrying about this. Since the 100% conclusive mark is 3 months, I fear that I may waste the next 3 months of my life obsessing over this. I should mention that I was tested at 2 weeks, and the result was negative, however a 2 week test is only 50% conclusive. I see my psychaitrist in 2 weeks and I will talk to him about this. Can anyone here offer me some reassurance or advice?
Tags: HIV, OCD
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Avatar_m_tn
hey so i was some what correct in saying that the brain is pretty powerful and would remember Something like that, even if its just a fraction of a memory. Please stop playing around your neck, You know it will only make it worse. As far as the drinks you had, well No matter if it was 10 or 15 or 20, you know it was to much. But i am convinced nothing happened, I used to have black outs also back in the day when i was a heavy drinker, and could ALWAYS remember if i had done something sexual with someone, even if i didn't remember the rest, Or maybe just  bits and parts of it. Everything will be fine. you'll see.
22 Comments Post a Comment
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3568221_tn?1348110474
If you are worry about a encounter (anal sex),it is impossible you didn't feel anything when you woke up.I have some homosexual friends, they all say it(anal sex) hurt a lot for the first time and sometime it bleed. since you are not a homosexual man i assume you never have a encounter like that.
BTW for a funny story i saw online, a man blackout in his friends home, next morning he find his anus bleeding, and he thought his friend rape him last night, but later it turn out to be his piles bleeding because of the alcohol. LOL~
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1699033_tn?1405352675
I can't add anything more than what you got on the HIV prevention forum.  
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Avatar_m_tn
Can anyone give me any advice for managing my anxiety until I see my psychaitrist in 2 weeks? I have been compulsively checking my neck for lymph nodes and reading about HIV on the internet.
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1699033_tn?1405352675
You neet to ditch the internet...you get answers from A to Z that cover the entire spectrum of good, middle, and bad.  It really just makes the anxiety worse.  So do whatever you can to NOT go on the internet.  Go for a walk, read a book.  

When you do have anxiety, try this breathing technique...take a deep breath in through your nose and hold it for five seconds and count this out in your head, then let it all out through you mouth.  Do this until you are calm.  Then think about the true transmission ways of HIV or better yet write them down on an index card.  The true transmission ways...not the fictional stuff that you are worried about.  Then when HIV anxiety kicks in, take out the card and read it to reassure yourself.  Also, try self-coaching...say ENOUGH in your head or my own personal  favorite "ENOUGH, NOW MOVE ON."  Hopefully this will help you until you get to the psychiatrist.  Take care.  
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Avatar_m_tn
My biggest issue right now is that I have that memory lapse from the alcohol last night. Even though it appears that I left the bar at closing time and walked straight back to my room, and I woke up clean and alone in my hotel room, I am obsessing because I could have done ANYTHING, including a high risk behavior in the time that I don't remember. Any advice for dealing with that?
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1699033_tn?1405352675
It really is tough honestly sometimes to get our minds to just stop going and going.  There are two books you can get that.  The first is called Self-Coaching by Joseph Luciani.  This is the first book I read last year when I was in my crisis state.  The second book is called The OCD Workbook:  Your Guide to Breaking Free of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  You have to work on self-coaching.  You are going to have to work on replacing those negative statements with positive ones.  For instance, you made it back to your room and woke up clean and alone so there is no way that you would not remember what you did on your way there.   Doubt is a big part of OCD.  When the doubt creeps in, stop it in its tracks with a positive statement of fact.  Please try to get both books.  I think they will help you until you can see your therapist.  
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you for taking the time to help me. I am trying to reinforce with positive thoughts like

"HIV is transferred through anal sex. I have never had anal sex so I would know if I had while drunk. I have no sensation that that occurred, so it didn't happen. Therefore I don't have HIV."

"HIV is transferred through unprotected sex, but I was clean when I woke up with not evidence of any sexual encounter. Therefore I didn't have sex, Therefore I don't have HIV."

"I left the bar at 1 am. There was no one at the bar. There was no reason for anyone else to have been downstairs at that time. Anyone looking for sex would have probably been in the bar. There was probably no one downstairs at that hour, and the odds are anyone down there wasn't looking to hook up. The odds are if anyone did approach me that was a man I would have rejected them. And no woman would go near me in the state I was in. Therefore I did not have sex and do not have HIV."

However, I am struggling with the one you suggested "you made it back to your room and woke up clean and alone so there is no way that you would not remember what you did on your way there." In fact I don't remember what I did on my way back to my room, so any advice anyone can offer about dealing with this uncertainty would be appreciated.
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1699033_tn?1405352675
Your statements are reinforcement that what you are afraid happened didn't actually happen.  You don't remember going to the hotel but you must have been coherent enough to get there.  There is no easy answer here.  You have to just look at the facts and accept them.  Our minds can make the absurd seem real but in reality it isn't fact and that is what therapy is going to help you with.  
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Avatar_m_tn
Yes. The bar was in the hotel, so all I had to do to get to my room was take the elevator 1 floor and walk down the hallway.
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Avatar_m_tn
Exactly Worriedworry, Do you remember getting to your hotel room from the bar? If so chances are nothing happened, I also suspect that even in blackouts are minds are strong enough that it would have so flash's of a sexual encounter. YOU did not have sex, think about all the little things when you woke up. was there anything in the room that would make you think that something that happened? and as far a the Restroom goes, had someone walked in while you were in there, the chances of someone raping you having a sexual fling with you while you were in there are very unlikely and something I am sure you would remember, if even just a climps of it.

You are fine, and everything will be ok :) ok?
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you for your response. I am trying to avoid going through another round of HIV testing, since i just finished one from a one time low risk sexual encounter that I was tested for 2 years ago but then I forgot if I had actually been tested so I had to get tested again. Crazy I know. I think talking to my psychaitrist in 2 weeks will help, but I may have to get tested at 6 and 12 weeks just because of the way my anxiety works. Thanks for your response DaisyDee13 it is reassuring when another person reads my story and tells me not to worry.
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Avatar_m_tn
Don't buy into the irrational thinking because it's all in our heads.
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Avatar_m_tn
Today I had a setback then a breakthrough.

Setback: I realized I had been drinking pints of beer, so that put my drink total closer to the 15 drink mark. This puts me in major blackout territory so I was less sure of my ability to remember things. I began finding lymph nodes and have inflamed my neck by prodding so much.

Breakthrough: I broke down and called my psychaitrist. He is a past president of the American Psychiatric Association and the President of the largest Addiction and Mental Health Service providers in my city, and also my personal Psychaitrist! How lucky am I? He told me that in his opinion I have nothing to worry about. My brain would have recorded a memory of an unusual experience such as a sexual encounter. He advised me to increase the dosage of the medication I am on if my anxiety persists. I trust him so his opinion was very reassuring to me. However I still have some anxiety.
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Avatar_m_tn
hey so i was some what correct in saying that the brain is pretty powerful and would remember Something like that, even if its just a fraction of a memory. Please stop playing around your neck, You know it will only make it worse. As far as the drinks you had, well No matter if it was 10 or 15 or 20, you know it was to much. But i am convinced nothing happened, I used to have black outs also back in the day when i was a heavy drinker, and could ALWAYS remember if i had done something sexual with someone, even if i didn't remember the rest, Or maybe just  bits and parts of it. Everything will be fine. you'll see.
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Avatar_m_tn
I have had so many situations similar to this, and still do, if not with HIV it was about something else. You need to see a psychologist to get on CBT, this is an OCD problem not an HIV one. You will look back at this 3 months from now after you have taken a few more HIV tests and see I was right.  But I have been there and know how hard it is to let go of the obsession. Reassurance (what I shouldn't be doing for you now) actually makes OCD worse in the long run.
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Avatar_m_tn
I am still struggling with this two months later. I have recalled a memory of getting back to my room, realizing that my roomate was back and asleep, and so quickly undressing and getting into bed.

I will spend hours at a time now sitting on the couch ruminating about this. I calculate percentage odds. For instance: the chances that I encountered a person in the hallways at 1 in the morning are not even 100%. I estimate about 50%. The chances of the person I encountered having HIV I estimate about 1/100, since that is the portion of the US adult population with HIV (1.2 million out of 350 million american citizens). Then HIV is generally not transmissable if the person is being successfully treated, and only 1/5 HIV+ people in the US are not being treated or don't know their status. (I calculate that these percentages skew to be even lower because I was in a fancy hotel where the demographics were probably more affluent, leading to less HIV+ people and a greater chance of treatment.) Then even if I encounter a person with transmissable HIV (1/500) in the literally 2 minutes it would have taken for me to walk from the bar to my room, in a very low traffic area of the hotel, the chances of a high risk sexual encounter are probably very low. A similar situation has never happened in my life so why should it happen then. Finally, I calculate the chances that I had a high risk encounter and didn't remember it or have any evidence of it to be infinitessimal, based on my excellent Psychaitrists reassurance that there is no way I wouldn't remember this. However, what if I also took a show when I got back to my room and don't remember!?!Nonetheless, even with all these calculations that I go through 100 times an hour in my head, I can't shake the uncertainty.

Does anyone have any fresh insight to offer on this?
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Avatar_m_tn
The 3rd to last sentence should read "what if I also took a shower and didn't remembe it."

Also, I remind myself that the chances of transmission from an infectious HIV+ individual are only 1/100.
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480448_tn?1403547723
What are you doing to address the OCD?  Are you working with yiur doctor?  Are you in therapy?  On meds?

One thing I'll tell you you need to do is lay off the alcohol, not for reasons of HIV, but because alcohol will exacerbate anxiety tremendously.  You are only fueling your anxiety by drinking.
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Avatar_m_tn
I've been talking to my doctor about this. He first and foremost told me that my worries are completely unfounded, but I have trouble coercing him to be as effusive as I would like him to be in reassuring me. He suggested upping my meds but I am uncomfortable with this because of potential side effects so I have only been taking the extra dose every other night. I was uncomfortable bringing up this up specifically in my last meeting because he was so clear in my previous session that I shouldn't be worried, but I did briefly bring it up in the context of other medical and social doubts and anxieties I have been having. He said something along the lines of "we can't be absolutely certain about everything but there are things that we do know and we can make reasonable conclusions based on them." that's the only thing I really remember him saying. I plan on bringing it up again in 10 days when I see him next.

As for the alcohol I know it increases anxiety, but it is also a temporary relief. I can't stop completely, I havent been successful with abstinence only recovery and it actually triggered a really brutal relapse for me. I am so much better than 3 or 4 years ago in college when I got drunk and smoked marijuana everyday. I am successful professionally and keep a very regular, healthy lifestyle. I don't use any drugs and now I only get drunk once every few months, and not in the way I used to get drunk. By drunk I meant 5-7 drinks, this episode this summer was a real outlier for me. I do however stop at the bar once a week or so after work to have one beer and leave. Thats the extent of my drinking now.

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Avatar_m_tn
Some ways I have been reassuring myself include: It is highly unlikely I had anal sex. I have never done this in my life, so why would I agree to it if I was drunk? Being drunk I would probably be more likely to say "**** no, get away from me." Also I had no feeling that this had happened so its highly unlikely that it did.
I also think its unlikely that i had penetrative sex with a man or woman, because with my BAC well above 2.0 I would probably not have been able to maintain an erection. Also, why would anyone try to get me to have sex with them when I was so obviously drunk. I must have been a pretty un-sexy sight at that point.
More to the point, I was so drunk that I probably wouldnt have engaged with anyone to the point that I negotiated a sexual encounter in a bathroom. I wouldnt have been making eye contact or engaging with people when I was in that state, I would have been focused on getting back to my room. I have recollection of arriving back in my room and not having an emotional reaction like I think I would have been having if I had had sex with someone. I think it just seems highly unlikely.
I volunteer downtown and I see all the homeless alcoholics and the statistics say that they don't have HIV. If they got through all their years of debauchery and don't have HIV my guess is that I wouldnt get it either from just having one night where I drank a little too much in a hotel.
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Avatar_m_tn
Also, being a man, it just seems like men are not the ones who have unplanned sex when they get too drunk. It happens to women, because men pester women uncontrollably and when they are drunk they let their guard down. However, being a young man, its generally true that no one wants to talk to me for any reason, lol. They would probably be less likely to engage with me in any way when I was following down drunk.
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Avatar_m_tn
You like me have OCD . Please stop drinking because I feel the same like you . I had many similar situation like yours and I decided to stop drinking.
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