HIV - Prevention Expert Forum
extremely worried
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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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extremely worried

Hellos Drs.
Im desperately trying to pull it together and keep calm until 12 weeks have passed since a possible exposure to hiv, but since im going crazy im reaching out to you for some of your knowledge. On May 22 i had a high risk encounter. Unprotected oral andreceptive anal sex with a guy of unkown hiv status, very irresponsible on my part since I was drunk and on vacation I also tend to have swollen and bleeding gums which I guess makes oral sex even more risky. Exactly one week after exposure i began to have strange symptoms that i hadnt experienced before. Very dried mouth that wouldnt go away drinking water..burning eyes and a fever that lasted 2-3 days, by week two I had developed a white coated hairy tongue as well as rashes on my neck and legs, the rash on my neck different to the rash on my legs..rash on neck looks like bumps under skin with hard white stuff inside that come out if bursted, rash on legs is three small patches red and scaly that might resemble psoriasis, i also experienced 3 night sweats throughout the first 4 weeks along with weight loss..body feeling feverish and chillsbut no temperature and lower back and joint pain...I was tested for all stds and hiv 33 days after exposure all negative...was tested for hiv again 47 days after exposure negative and tested again 61 days after exposure negative results ..however the rashes, joint pain and white hairy tongue persists im very stressed and worried that i might be infected and my immune system is not producing antibodies ..im going back for the 12 week test but very scared that it might change to positive..would any other disease or condition affect the ability to produce antibodies? I have been tested in the us with the clearview complete hiv 1/2 finger prick rapid test..should I get the test that looks for the virus itself and not antibodies i think is called pcr test or something like that. Im in so much need of assistance and advise,thanks in advance for your response
300980_tn?1194933000
Welcome to our Forum.  You are correct that your unprotected rectal sex with a partner of unknown status did put you at risk for HIV.  Your oral sex did not increase your risk in a meaningful way.  At this time however, worrying about what might have happened makes no sense.  You are at a time (more than 8 weeks after exposure) when you can and have gotten completely reliable test results.  You do not need to wait until 12 weeks for reliable test results.  With current tests all persons who acquire HIV will have positive tests at 8 weeks – believe your 61 day test results.

As far as your symptoms are concerned, they do not raise any concern about HIV for me.  They began too soon (symptoms o HIV do not begin until at least two weeks after exposure), have lasted too long (the ARS rarely lasts longer than 4-5 days), and have many other possible causes.  Furthermore, since the symptoms of early HIV infection are typically due to antibody formation and the antibodies reacting with the virus, if your symptoms had been due to HIV, your tests would have been positive soon after they began and your tests at 33, 47 and 61 days would have been positive.  They were not. Thus you already have PROOF that you were not infected with HIV through the exposure you describe.  

Finally, your suggestion that you might be infected but not producing antibodies suggests to me that you have spent time on the internet and been misled by the mythology that is all too common there.  Had you been infected you would have made antibodies.

You can be confident you did not get HIV from the exposure you mention.  To continue to worry is a waste of energy.  To continue to test is a wste of time and money.  

I hope these comments will be helpful to you.  You did not get HIV from the exposure you described.  EWH
11 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you so much for your quick response dr, it really helps to receive some advise from an expert in the field. You are right i have spent tons of time reading about serocoverting and have read stories about people stating they tested positive 3 months and even 7 months after exposure therefore I just extremely scared my results could change by week 12. I suppose some information i forgot to mention would not change your opinion as that i am also a male so it was a gay encounter and that i also have developed swollen lymph nodes. Once again thank you very much for your response and im really looking forward to confirming a negative result as you have mentioned by week 12 .
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300980_tn?1194933000
Like your other symptoms, your swollen lymph nodes are a non-specific finding.  Biologically we know that if your swollen nodes were due to HIV, your antibody test would be positve at that time.  

I should also point out that you may have had swollen nodes before but only noticed them after you started to look carefully due to concerns over your possible exposure.

Again, no reason to worry. When nodes are swollen but the test is negative, the swollen nodes are due to something other than HIV.  eWH
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you very much for your answers they really help and I feel like I can be less stressed about it now.
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300980_tn?1194933000
Glad I could help. EWH
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Avatar_m_tn
I apologize that Im back again I just forgot to ask about the whole waiting 12 weeks before a conclusive test, I just wanted to have this explained since the test I took was not DUO, was antibody only..so if like you advised 8 weeks should be considered reliable why the 12 week window period? 8 weeks for antibody test alone is enough time? I hope  I can make my point of what im trying to explain ..i would truly appreciate your expertise for these last questions..thank you
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300980_tn?1194933000
The 12 week recommendation represents the failure of recommendations, some of which are made by "offical" organizations such as the CDC, to keep up with advancing technology.  The recommendations for testing at 3 and even 6 months are the result of two factors- data from older tests no longer used (you really do not need to worry about which generation of tests you were tested with, at this time virtually all tests are far more sensitive that they were even 3-5 years ago when the 3 month recommendation was made) and secondly, the fact that some, mostly governmental agencies which have to provide recommendations for virtually everyone without the sort of interactions such as those you get with your doctor or on personalized sites such as this one, feel they cannot "afford" to be wrong and therefore make recommendations and guidelines which leave most people unnecessarily nervous for 4-6 weeks longer than the 6-8 weeks it takes virtually everyone to develop HIV antibodies.  

Please don't worry.  EWH
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you very much for your answer Dr. Hook it really is a relieve to hear some encouraging words from an expert. It might seem overreacting but this actually has affected me really bad Im currently seeking psychological therapy as well I just cant get over anxiety and fear of a changing test result. Once again thank you very much for your great work.
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Avatar_m_tn
Im completely going out of my mind...went to a dermatologist and diagnosed the rash in my legs as eczema and i read eczema can be triggered by an infection like hiv i really wanna trust the tests results and take your advise but this situation is getting the best out of me I want to put this behind me but my body is acting so weird with all these symptoms..they wont test me at the clinic anymore until 12 weeks have past they said there is no point but this wait is killing me..i know i shouldnt be posting anymore but i just wanted to let you know and see if there is any additional piece of advice
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300980_tn?1194933000
fFnal answer Most peole with exzema (eczema) do not have HIV and eczema can be worsened by anxiety.  You have a negative test.  Your 12 week test will be negative as well.  If you cannot accept this, you should seek formal, professional counseling to help you address the issue.  

EWH
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you again Dr. Hook
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
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