Sunday, February 2, 2014

Hub Chronicles 2: Internet Information Danger

It was drama day. I had few counselees but several were on an emotional high. I consider it a weird day at the hub when I get 3 girls who burst into tears and 2 of them hugging me:

Female counselee #1: Six weeks ago she noted flat "rashes" on her palms and soles. No pain, no itchiness, just flat redness. Like any tech savy individual she turned to the internet and searched for conditions that "fit" her symptoms. She found Secondary Syphilis but instead of confirming with a doctor she accepted the information as her "diagnosis" and suffered in worry and shame (even if she knew she didn't have any risk factors) for 6 weeks before finally deciding get herself tested.

Female counselee #2: Currently in a stable relationship but had a past relationship with someone from another country. She read in the internet about the high incidence of HIV in that country and started to worry. She read about the signs and symptoms of HIV+ persons and began to "feel" those symptoms herself until she was convinced she was HIV+. Several weeks later, she got tested.

Female counselee #3: she works in another country. One day she noticed several nodes on both sides of her neck. She consulted a doctor and the suspicion was TB. A blood test was requested (this was in another country) which came out negative. She was convinced that it was a false negative result so she searched the internet for reasons why that blood test would come out falsely negative and she focused on one - HIV - and she accepted that she had it. She applied for an extended vacation leave and came home. She knew she was loyal and her partner swore his loyalty, too. For 3 months she lived with the fear and worry of what HIV would do to her and what it would mean for her family. Then she got tested.

The Internet is great source of information (and I wish I had this much access when I was in Med School).


Information, especially medical information has to be placed in context. Nothing in Medicine is absolute. If you think you have something, check the internet and if you find something, go to a doctor for confirmation. Never diagnose yourself solely by information found in the internet even if you are in the medical field. Even doctors loose their objectivity when treating themselves or close family members.

And, if you think you have a sexually transmitted infection. Get tested NOW.

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