Jan 11, 2012
Posted this in another thread- thought is was worth its own journal page.
From my experience on HIV forums, it's clear that for a substantial portion of posters, the forums just don't work for them. For the highly anxious, words on a computer screen have limited reassurance power. The poster may receive a small reduction in anxiety, and then it comes back, so they return to the forum to try to receive that small benefit, without addressing the root of the problem, and the cycle continues...Many seem to use these forums as sort of a psychological support line, which is not their intent.
For those with a need to continue to post after being assessed as not having a risk, etc., I think the best next step for them is to seek a more personal format for advice. Visit your local Planned Parenthood or county health department and talk out your concerns with an HIV counselor there. If the anxiety is severe and interrupting their life functioning, visit your primary care physician. Or seek a professional therapist (I would recommend someone who would have knowledge about HIV, like a nurse practitioner). Just being able to talk to another human being in person is almost certain to reduce HIV Anxiety, because a substantial portion of the anxiety comes from the isolation involved.
These forums were never meant to substitute for professional advice (i.e. read the disclaimers) and too many people seem to try to use them that way, because the nature of their concerns can be embarrassing to talk about. But the professionals I've mentioned have heard it all before- there is no reason to be embarrassed about talking about sexual stuff to professionals in this day and age.