HIV - Prevention Expert Forum
Continued HIV Anxiety
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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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Continued HIV Anxiety

I have posted on this forum once before. However, I am still experiencing severe anxiety and wanted to ask one more question. I am aware that I will not be able to post any more for 6 months.

I had a high risk exposure September 2011 (Unprotected vaginal sex with someone who I later found out had also slept with men & IV drug users)
I tested negative in January 2012 (4 months post exposure) and June 2012 (9 months post exposure).-Both blood tests.
However, I got an ARS type illness 10 months post exposure (Rash that came up and down every few hours for several days+sore throat+possible fever).
My doctor never followed up my last test as they left the practice. I simply had a nurse tell me it was negative...so I've been stressed about this exposure for nearly 18 months now.

Is there any possibility that I could have seroconverted at 10 months since I had these symptoms? Do I need to be tested again?

I'm finding that my anxiety over this is getting worse as time goes on and I really need a 100% answer so that I can move on with my life.
300980_tn?1194933000
I'm sorry that your concerns about the exposure in 2011 you mention are lingering.  From what you say this was not a particularly high risk exposure.  It was a single exposure to a person who might have, but probably didn't have HIV (even among exclusively men who have sex with only other men, only about 8-10% have HIV and your partner's risk sounds to be lower than that).  More importantly, you were tested not once but twice at times when the results would be conclusive.  It is now time for you to believe them and stop worrying and/or beating yourself up over this exposure- you were not infected.  

Also, even if your viral illness were precisely like the ARS, only 1% of persons with the ARS-like symptoms turn out to have HIV.  In your case, the illness occurred long beyond when the ARS would have occurred.  And ,in case you have been on the internet- the concept of "late seroconversion" is an internet-fueled myth that does not exist.  

As Dr. Handsfield suggested, it is time for you to believe you test results and move forward.  You did not get HIV from your exposure of concern. If you cannot get this off you mind, then I would urge you to talk this through with a counselor and address the things that hinder your accepting your test results.  

I hope my comments help.  EWH
4 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
The rash also appeared to go away after treatment with antihistimines if that changes your evaluation.
Whether they are related or it was just a cooincidence, I don't know.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you for your very speedy and helpful reply.
I had several exposures to the same person, as we were in a relationship. However, my latest exposure was in September 2011.
Would the fact that it was a repeated exposure change your assessment in any way?
Just clarifying as you based your response off my single exposure (which is my fault,I should have mentioned that it was multiple exposures)
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300980_tn?1194933000
No, repeated exposures would have no impact on the accuracy of your test results.  EWH
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
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University of Alabama at Birmingham
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