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Peripheral Neuropathy and HIV
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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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Peripheral Neuropathy and HIV

Hello Dr.,
   I have a question about P. Neuropathy.  Mainly, when in HIV does it occur?  I've read all over the net and talked to some physicians and everyone seems to have conflicting opinions.  I've also searched this site like you recommend, but I found it very hard to find info about PH relating to HIV because it was all mixed in with info from other forums.  In my own inquires, most doctors told me that it is a late stage symptom or one caused by meds.  However, some sites state that it  happens anytime.  I figured I'd ask an expert.
   The main reason I ask is because a little over 10 weeks ago I had protected sex with a female of unknown status.  I was only worried about HIV because she was nearing the end of her menstrual cycle, and blood may have gotten into my mouth which may have had cuts in it(I know for a fact it was there because it did get on my hands.)  Yes, I realize the scenario needs A LOT of things to fall into place and the prospect of HIV is unlikely.  But, I am just a little worried because I had a tingling in my foot for a while and it just recently turned to burning pain (like hot coals.)  Based on my research this feels like neuropathy.  I also still have a rash on my neck.  
   I tested negative at 9 wks and I know that is good enough to feel good about being negative by this forum's standards.
   My neurologist ordered an MRI that looked OK.  Would neuropathy have showed up?
   So, in short, here are my questions: 1. When does PH show up in HIV? 2. After nine weeks, I should stop worrying, right? 3. Would ph show up in an MRI?
    Thanks!
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239123_tn?1267651214
The 'most doctors' you quote are exactly right.  Neuropathy is a manifestation of late/advanced HIV infection, not of early HIV or ARS.  For practical purposes, nobody with new HIV infection has a negative test at 9 weeks, so your result proves you did not catch HIV.  Peripheral neuropathy is a symptom, not an anatomic abnormality.  Some causes might show up on MRI, but others may not--but I am definitely not an experrt on this.  Your neurologist has the answers.  Whatever is going on, it isn't HIV or anything else that has anything to do with the exposure you are worried about.

Good luck--  HHH, MD
10 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
I know you're not a neurologist, but I appreciate any info you have.  I know you prob. won't read this per forum rules, but thanks!
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Avatar_n_tn
I'm not a neurologist, nor do I play one on TV, but I'm pretty sure that the best test used to detect neuropathy is an EMG.  It's a nerve conduction study.  The doctor puts needles in different areas of your body, then sends shockwaves through your system.  He also puts pads in different areas and once again shocks you.  This is an actual test used to test your nervous system only.  I know that an MRI is used to detect many things, but I'm not sure that it's the best method of detecting neuropathy.  
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you for the clarification on neuropathy.  And as long as it's not HIV, I'm sure I'll be able to handle any neuropathy I may have.  I just got sick and the rash and the tingling and---Man!  My mind was racing!  So as long as it's not HIV, I'm good.  And 9 weeks means that's it's not.  Cool.  Thanks for clearing everything up.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi Doctor,

I just wanted to check on one thing.  I realize that because of my 9 week test that my symptoms are not due to HIV.  However, is neuropathy a sign of any other STIs?  I've also been getting a tingling in my scrotum only when sitting and my doctor mentioned that I may have a muscle strain that is causing that.  Is that even possible?

Basically, I ask about the neuropathy thing because that symptom and my rash had me all worried about HIV.  But since it's not that that is causing the problems, I wanted to know if it was another type of STD.  I say this only because the symptoms started a couple of weeks after my sexual encounter.  I've been beating myself up over it thinking that I brought these symptoms on myself and had I not had sex they wouldn't have happened.  However, if nothing like what I describe (neuropathy) is transmitted sexually then I would have gotten it anyway, I'm assuming.  And knowing that would make it a lot easier to deal with.
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Avatar_n_tn
I'll post that in the STD forum if you'd like...I just didn't want to risk paying and having it deleted.
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79258_tn?1190634010
"I've been beating myself up over it thinking that I brought these symptoms on myself and had I not had sex they wouldn't have happened."

I think that's true, but not the way you might think. My bet is that your anxiety over having had sex is the root cause. Google anxiety, and see if the symptoms aren't exactly what you describe :-)
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Avatar_n_tn
I do agree with your assessment of anxiety because some of my symptoms have subsided.  However, the burning in my feet has gotten worse.  At first it was a "tingle" but then it became hot coals even after my 9 week test.

Does Dr. HHH stop reading these after they get to a certain point on the page?  I'm afraid I may have asked my follow up too late.
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239123_tn?1267651214
No, neuropathy is not a symptom of any STD.

Get this straight:  the symptoms you describe are totally unlrelated to the sexual exposure you describe, except for the possiblity they are due to anxiety over the event.  (Neuropathy sounds very doubtful.)

It is so frustrating when people come to the forum asking for reassurance, then reject that reassurance and try to convince me they really have the deadly diagnosis they feared!

I won't have any further comments.  Take it to the HIV support forum if you want to continue the discussion.
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you for your reply Doctor.  I am not rejecting your opinion...I know I do not have HIV.  I just wanted to make sure there was no other std to worry about.  Thank you and enjoy your weekend.
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