Phobias Community
HIV Phobias/Anxiety
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Phobias are a type of anxiety disorder where one has a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. Discuss topics including social phobias, claustrophobia and treatment options.

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HIV Phobias/Anxiety

Hi all!

I wanted to talk about this briefly.  I've been a regular contributor for years on the HIV Prevention forum here at MH, so I see just how common HIV Anxiety is.  Some people may have had a scary situation, such as finding out an ex partner had become infected, and they can't seem to accept that they're okay.

However, the majority of people we see had NO risk at all for contracting HIV, yet the fear still consumes them.  This can be a common phase, particularly for a young adult in their late teens, early 20's.  It is also far more common in countries where sexual activities are viewed as being "bad", and where religions dictate strict sexual behaviors of a certain sort.  We get a LOT of posters from the Middle Eastern countries.

So, why do people develop such a strong and irrational fear of HIV?  For one, the stigma behind it.  The stigma surrounding  HIV has improved a lot since the emergence of the disease, but not completely.  Also, in those countries I mentioned above, HIV still has a very strong stigma attached to it, and it is still largely seen as a "gay" disease, which is shunned in many parts of the world.  Additionally, the education behind HIV is primarily delivered in a "fear based" fashion, for good reason.  Educators DO, to a point, try to "scare" children about HIV in hopes they will be very careful in the sexual arena.  This plants a seed in the heads of kids about HIV.  They are taught to fear it rather than learn about it.  MOST people have an extremely overinflated view of HIV, and the risks associated with it.  Most people would tell you you can get HIV from kissing, or sharing someone's toothbrush.  WRONG.  Or, from getting your nails done, or a tattoo.  WRONG again.  There's a simple fact that people with a fear of HIV MUST start getting into their head...HIV is HARD to get.  You'd have to work pretty hard, or take extreme risks to end up infected.

Also, while there are FAR too many people infected, the overall numbers, in comparison to the total population, are small.  MOST people do NOT have HIV, even sex workers.  The ONLY way you COULD end up with HIV is if you have unprotected sex (vaginal OR anal) OR if you share IV drugs.  That's it.  People find that impossible to believe, but it's true.

Ok, so you've developed an abnormal fear of HIV.  You're fearful of public bathrooms, you don't like to shake hands with strangers, you have even imagined that someone poked you with a needle, or that you stepped on one. So, what do you do?  IF your fear is a result of a REAL HIV scare, then give it some time.  Usually the anxiety will start to resolve.  If it's not related to an actual HIV scare, or if you cannot believe your negative results, or if you're dreaming up all kinds of irrational scenarios of how you could have been exposed...it's time to get some professional help.  People knowledgeable about HIV can tell you ALL  day long that you weren't at risk, or don't have it, but your irrational mind won't let you believe it.  Just like any kind of anxiety disorder, or OCD,or depression, when fears become obsessive, or phobic in nature...seeking a mental health professional is the only logical choice.  Usually with a combination of meds and therapy, they will help you learn to break that anxious cycle of thinking and worrying.  It takes some time, and some work, but it can be done.  You don't have to live in fear, and HIV is NOT out to get you!

Hope you found this helpful.
4 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_f_tn
Nice one dear,actually i have a very strong phobia for hiv and is really killing me,living with fear everyday of your life,is hard getting a good professional help in my country and is not a cheap one,i jst don't know what to do
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Avatar_m_tn
Nice way to put it. I would love to get rid of my fear once and for all but it's really hard. My constant worry evolves around this window period thing as I'm not at 6 months yet.
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Avatar_m_tn
this article explains my life over the last 8 weeks. I dont know what to do. I know its not realistic but my mind doesnt care and still worries
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5579991_tn?1377098688
I am in a serodiscordant relationship I love my BF but my fear to contract HIV is really high right now... tomorrow my therapy starts. I'm tired of feeling this anxious.
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