HIV - Prevention Expert Forum
Scared after 10 years
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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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Scared after 10 years

Dr.

Ten years ago I had unprotected sex with a number of different women.  I believe, based on comments from a friend at the time, that one of the women was HIV positive and one of the others was very promiscuous but I never went for a test.  I then started a committed relationship and am still with that woman today.  I have had no other sexual contact since 1996.

I understand that it is common for symptoms to appear after 10 years and that’s what has me scared.  In the last 4 months I have developed the following symptoms;
• Loss of 20 pounds (in the last 4 weeks) and constant hunger;
• White hairy tongue with ridges on the side but no white, yet;
• A brownish lesion on my left heel;
• Loss of muscle mass;
• Receding gums and often a milky white substance inside mouth in morning;
• A recent bout of diarrhea lasting for 2 weeks;
• Tingling in both hands and feet;
• Poor concentration.

Those symptoms scream AIDS and while I know how you feel about symptoms, I am terrified.

In 2002 my girlfriend was tested for HIV and Hepatitis, out of concerns she had over my past.  The results were negative.  I donate blood occasionally and last did so in 2004.  No HIV detected (the blood service uses nucleic acid testing, each test performed on a batch of about 20 samples).

Is it possible that the tests missed HIV?  Do I have AIDS?
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Reacting only to the title you chose for this thread, before reading the question itself, and predicting your concerns based on other common questions on this forum:  If your last possible HIV exposure was 10 years ago and you have had a negative HIV test more than 3 months later, then no matter what else you say--whatever symptoms you have, whatever problems there are--you don't have HIV.  If you have not been tested and are worried, just get tested now.  Finally, if you were infected with HIV 10 years ago, you would probably be very sick by now, possibly dead; non-life-threatening symptoms probably are not due to HIV.

Now I have read your question. You can be sure you don't have HIV; testing had to be done when you donated blood, and you would have been told if you were HIV positive; and they would not have accepted you as a donor after the first positive result.  And your former partner's HIV test result also is reassuring.

Every sympom of HIV is more commonly due to something else.  In other words, even though some of your symptoms are common in HIV disease, there is nothing in them that specifically suggests HIV, with the possible exception of "hairy" tongue--but that too can be due to other things.  By far the most important symptoms you describe are unintentional weight loss (20 lb in 4 weeks is a lot!) and loss of muscle mass.  They could be serious and you need to see a health care provider right away.  Most likely that professional will re-test you for HIV as a precaution, but you can be sure that's not the problem.

Best wishes--  HHH, MD
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
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