The "Worried-Well"

Posted by Pozziepinoy on 6:34 PM
I have been receiving emails, text messages and phone calls from people who already took the HIV test, with negative results and still think that they are infected with HIV. Some took the test, 6 months post exposure but still experience symptoms that they believe to be HIV-related which they have read over the internet or have heard from other PLHIV's.

I got concerned about this before as more and more people are asking for my advice about this matter, that I asked Dr. Ditangco, the head of RITM-ARG about it. She was the first person who told me about  "Worried-Well", a term used to denote people who are convinced they have HIV despite overwhelming evidence that they don't based on standardized testing methods. She told me that this is psychiatric in nature and these people should consult with a psychiatrist.

Today, as I was reading the "100 Questions & Answers About HIV and AIDS" by Joel Gallant, MD, MPH, I touched on the topic of "Worried-Well' again on his 17th question: What if all my tests are negative but I'm sure that I'm infected? It is really true that this condition exists!

Let me quote Dr. Gallant's response to this question in his book:

"HIV is not hard to diagnose. If the serology is negative 6 months after your last exposure, you're negative. You don't need to see a specialist. You don't need to think about rare subtypes, or whether medications you take are cause false negative tests results.

What you may need is a psychiatrist or a psychotherapist. Irrational obsession with disease can be a sign of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or hypochondriasis. Depression and anxiety can cause many of the symptoms that lead the Worried Well to think they're infected. People may also obsess about HIV infection because it's easier than dealing with more difficult issues like guilt or anxiety about sexuality or infidelity".

Here are some emails that I answered before in the blog:

1. Another HIV Anxiety Syndrome
2. HIV Anxiety Syndrome

Once again, if you tested negative, 6 months after your last exposure and you still feel that you have HIV because of all the symptoms that you are experiencing, then it is time to seek psychiatric help. 

NO PLHIV is alone with his or her struggle with HIV!"


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