HIV - Prevention Expert Forum
Symptoms Persist
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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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Symptoms Persist

Doctors,  I have been reading through the Hiv forums for some months and I have definitely learned a lot. I have what I hope is a quick question.  In Sept I had posted in the free forum about an unprotected oral encounter. At the time, I didn't even think about the brief unprotected intercourse incident that had happened a week and a half earlier. It was VERY brief...literally less than a miniute. Eitherway, 12 days later I started to feel a little itchy in my throat. 14 days after the incident I developed a fever, severe sore throat, had night sweats. This all lasted three days. My right tonsil was about the size of a golf ball. It was removed in November...my doctor didn't find anything wrong with it. To date, I have lost about 20 lbs since my incident in July. I have what I think are several peasized swollen lymph nodes in my neck and larger swollen lymphnodes in my groin area...all painless. I have had a post nasal drip issue since potential exposure and recently developed a single canker sore inside my cheeck.  I also have some tenderness on my back just below the last of my ribs on the right hand side. Finally, I have most recently developed a red splotch on the inside of my wrist about the size of a nickle.  oh, and this month my period was 10 days late. Are my symptoms  indicative of early HIV infection? I was tested at 56 days after exposure and the result was negative. Should I have been retested 10 days later for the 8 week? Based on what I have described, are my Hiv worries justified?  Thank you for your time.
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Welcome to the Forum.  Sometimes when we start to worry about something it is hard to shake.  I hope that my comments will be helpful to you in moving forward as you enter the New year.  The symptoms you describe are all quite non-specific and are most unlikely to be related to HIV.  Thus while these non-specific symptoms are "on the list" of symptoms associated with the acute retroviral syndrome (ARS) of early HIV infection, 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).  For a person to try to judge their HIV risk based on "ARS symptoms" is a waste of time.  In your specific case, not only is there no reason to worry about your symptoms but there is actually good reason NOT to worry.  When people have the ARS their antibody tests are uniformly positive a week or so after their symptoms begin.  In your case, a negative HIV test at 6 and 1/2 weeks, when well over 90% of people with HIV would have positive tests, is very strong evidence that you do not have HIV.  To be absolutely sure you may want to get another test at this time (any test at 8 or more weeks is proof that you did not get HIV) for your own peace of mind but I am confident at this time that you did not get HIV from the exposure you refer too.

I hope this comment is helpful to you.  EWH
4 Comments
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I'm sorry. I was tested 45 days potential exposure...6.5 weeks.also feeling some muscle ache below left shoulder.
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Thank you so very much for your response! I will have another test for peace of mind, and I'll follow up with my reg doctor regarding any seemingly persistent issues. I have a question for my own education though:  if one does have ARS and they test for HIV 2-3 weeks after initial symptoms appear, then they will most certainly test positive for HIV?   Any way, I hope you have a wonderful new year. Thanks again for your time and your committment to educating others.
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I believe the question you are asking relates to whether or not people who have the ARS are in the process of developing antibodies. The answer is yes. That is the reason that the HIV blood tests are reliably positive a week or so after the onset of the ARS.  EWH
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