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Acute Retroviral Syndrome or Something else
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Acute Retroviral Syndrome or Something else

Hey doc

I am a bi college student in new york city. I had a broken condom about 14 days ago. I removed immediately so i was only exposed for about a second or so. recently i have come down with a bad cold/flu/(hopefully not ars). The symptoms mirror ars but do not include some of the ARS symptoms.
I will try and be specific so that you can understand & access the situation as well as possible.

-I woke up one day with my nose very runny and clogged soon after a slight soar throat proceeded.
- I constantly take my temperature, the highest it was was 101. For the most part it was ranging in the 98 - 100.9. Id say it was usually at 99. I really only recall it hitting 101 once or twice(i musta checked 20 times)
- I had very slight chills and a light headache.

What has given me peace of mind is that I don't have a rash or swollen lymph nodes(that i can see). The soar throat i have is almost surley connected to the post nasal drip that is from my congestion. I know this because if i take a hot misty shower and cough out all the phlegm my soar throat is practically gone. Also my throat looks normal for from my non medical perspective, i don't see any white blotches or anything. I got tested yesterday and it was negative, i did this for some peace of mind because i read that it is probable that you will test positive during ARS.

I know symptoms cant diagnose this but they can provide SOME insight for those who cant stop thinking about it.
My questions are this
1. Does this sound like ars to you
2. During ARS does the soar throat cause visible changes in the throat? Is my congested soar throat the same as the ARS one?
3. I took claritin D and that helped, would that be the case with ARS.
4. Is my fever high enough to signal ARS
5. My symptoms began 11 days after exposure is that within the time frame?
6. The cold is basically gone now, it lasted 3 or 4 days is that too short for ars?
7. Is the missing Rash a good sign?

Thanks Doc
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300980_tn?1194933000
Congratulations on your commitment to condom use and I'm sorry to hear of the breakage.  Your points about people in denial is a good one and that is the reason we endorse regular testing for all who have unprotected (intentionally or due to condom failure) exposure to partners of unknown HIV status.  Your risk from the exposure you describe is low but irrespective of the presence of absence of symptoms which may reflect the ARS, you need to be tested.  Thus worrying about whether your symptoms are the ARS or not is really a waste of time.  

The symptoms of the ARS are TOTALLY non-specific and when people experience "ARS symptoms" they are much more likely to have something else, usually some other, more typical virus infection.  When this has been studied in the US, less than 1% of persons seeking medical care for "ARS symptoms" are found to have HIV, the remainder having symptoms due to other processes. In contrast, over a given year, there is almost no one who has not had a viral illness, night sweats or both (sometimes on multiple occasions).  In addition, it is also important to realize that many persons who acquire HIV do not experience the ARS.  Thus, while you have some symptoms which fall under the huge category of "ARS symptoms" the chance that they are in miniscule and or a person to try to judge their HIV risk based on "ARS symptoms" is a waste of time.

In answer to your specific questions:
1.  No, it sounds like a cold.
2.  This is an unanswerable question.  When people have sore throats, the throat is typically irritated in appearance, just as when people have a non-STD/HIV sore throat.
3.  Sore throats are self limited.  Claritin would make a person feel better no matter what the cause.
4.  High enough?, a fever is  a fever.  
5.  A bit early.  Typically the ARS starts t 2-3 weeks post exposure.
6.  No
7.  Yes

Bottom line, trying to gauge your risk based on symptoms is really silly.  A standard antibody test taken today will detect over 50% of infections and a test taken a week after the onset of symptoms, if the symptoms were due to HIV would likely be positive.  Get tested and stop worrying about symptoms.  EWH
6 Comments
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Avatar_f_tn
I did in fact ask if he was clear of all st's before proceeding, but in college sadly noone gets tested. I also found out he had slept with my roomate (who hardley ever uses condoms!) and never ever has been tested. If you were to ask my roomie if he were negative he would def say yes even though he cant be sure of that. I feel like people dont lie but most people don't know.
I really don't know how he manages to not care to get tested.
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Avatar_f_tn
I had a test yesterday it was negative, that's the one your saying would have caught about 50% of positive people?

I also just read on another persons post from doc. Hansfield that ARS does not cause Nasal congestion or runny nose, he was pretty adamant about it in the post. It was a rather old post. Do you think this still holds true?
My symptoms were undoubtedly based on my sinuses. Phlegm and nasal drip was the main symptom through out the cold.

Im sorry if i am being caught up on symptoms but until i can get a more conclusive test i cant get my mind off this and symptoms is all i have to think about. I will not post again after this. I assure you im not trying to base my risk simply trying to understand whats going on in my body until a test can tell me.

Can you possibly tell me how to go about acquiring a P24 antigen test. Are these in hospitals or clinics?
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Avatar_f_tn
It's my birthday party tomm and this is ruining it lol (not to sound like a complete brat)
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300980_tn?1194933000
I agree, a runny nose is not part of the ARS.  

Your in NYC, I would call the Helath Department. they have excellent resources for early diagnosis of HIV.  EWH
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thank you
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