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ARS Symptoms after exposure
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This forum is limited to prevention of HIV and to safe sex in general. All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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ARS Symptoms after exposure

Hello again, If you do not have access to my previous post, answered by Edward Hook. In short I had unprotected sex with a HIV+ women, my question was regarding risk of transmission which I found both informative and reassuring at the same time.
I have recently seen an interesting blog from doc Sean from freedom health regarding recent research into ARS symptoms, which points to the fact they are far more common than originally thought, he talks about the HIV tri-ad (Fever, rash and sore throat).
First of all I read enough to know that you cannot diagnose from symptoms and I must get tested but I would appreciate an expert opinion on my recent symptoms but here we go anyway. . since the seventh day after exposure I have had a sore throat unlike any other I have experienced, it`s a sore palate (hard and soft) of the mouth which has not extended to my throat, with no noticeable sores or redness. It hurts more when I swallow (when your tongue makes contact to the roof of your mouth) and seems to come and go, flares up when I smoke and eases off to nothing in the evenings and when I exercise, (sorry about the maybe slightly excessive info but I feel as a doctor more you know the better. It lasted 4 days, seems to have gone this morning. I have NO fever or rash! Do you think this sore mouth is more likely a symptom from some sort of allergy or an irritation from something I've eaten or drank etc.
Would you mind shedding a bit more light on the ARS Triad - do the symptoms come together and is 7 days too early to be experiencing ARS symptoms. I apologise in advance for asking a question that's been answered a million times but my exposure was extremely real and I think personal symptoms and timings can differ, the smallest detail may help you give a more detailed professional opinion.

Thanks again
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Welcome back to the Forum.  I'll be pleased to comment.  The issue of symptoms and how commonly they occur following exposure to an infected partner is a complex one.  The "classic" symptoms of recently acquired HIV are high fever, sore throat, severe muscle and joint aches, and a diffuse rash.  Some people also have diarrhea and other symptoms with the ARS.  These are also the same symptoms that people get with influenza and any number of other community acquired, non-STD viral infections which are far, far more common than HIV.  In fact, several studies have shown that when persons with the classic symptoms of the ARS are evaluated, less than 1% turn out to have HIV.  

Also related to the question is the fact that some people have milder, "non-classic" symptoms when they have recently acquired HIV and are beginning to develop antibodies to infection (this is where the symptoms most often come from).  How many people have these sorts of symptoms is not known.   Finally, it is clear that the majority of people who acquire HIV do not have symptoms which signal that they were infected.  for all of these reasons, we counsel our patients against efforts to use symptoms as indicators of infection. the diagnosis of HIV is made by tests for the virus or antibodies to the virus, not based on symptoms.  The symptoms associated with recently acquired HIV are too non-specific and too commonly caused by other, non-HIV illnesses to be reliable for most at risk persons.

In your case, the symptoms you describe are not the typical symptoms fo the ARS and began too soon to be typical of ARS. the symptoms of the  ARS typically begin at 2-6 weeks after exposure, not at one week as yours did.  In addition, the ARS symptoms do not tend to come and go as yours have.

I hope these comments are helpful.  EWH
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Thanks again for your informative reply.

Regarding your comment about several studies that have shown less than 1% of people showing typical ARS symptoms turn out too be HIV negative. I assume these people are being evaluated after a high risk exposure within the relevant window period for ARS?




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Correct.  EWH
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I believe my anxiety, worry and research into the unknown is at saturation point so only the test left to do! Thank you again, this expert forum is fantastic. I will post once more with my results, either way hopefully enforcing the importance of HIV awareness and prevention.
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Glad to help.  EWH
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