Ask The Doctor

Thank you for your questions. Here is one that comes up: How do you think about risk?

There are 3 factors that help you make decisions.
1. Reward. This is the good you get out of the behavior.
2. Cost. What the negatives are about the decision.
3. Risk or Chance. The chance you will get the Reward or pay the Cost.

askthedoctor2EXAMPLES: You pay a dollar for a lottery ticket. The risk of costing a dollar is high, but the cost is low. The reward can be huge. The chance you get the big money is very low. The vast majority lose money.

You decide to drive faster than is safest since you are in a hurry. The risk of getting a reward is moderate that you will get there early enough to make a difference. The cost can be a $200 ticket or killing many people, but this risk is mild. Recent alcohol increases the risk.


Suppose you meet someone who says they are HIV negative. You have no idea if someone is telling you the truth or what you want to hear, so they can have some pleasure. Remember that a negative HIV test today tells us you were negative 3 months ago since it takes that long sometimes for a test to turn positive after an exposure.

The chance is high that you will be rewarded with pleasure. The cost is catching sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. Is this cost is high or low for you? It depends on how much you value your health and handle hassles the rest of your life. At the least you should go for an STD checkup a couple of weeks after the contact, earlier if having symptoms, and take rapid HIV tests regularly.

Send your questions to: [email protected] Attn: Dr. Pearce