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Non-specific symptoms and HIV Testing
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Non-specific symptoms and HIV Testing

Dr H. -

I wrote to you a few weeks a ago about a sexual encounter where I was the insertive partner of unprotected oral sex and the insertive partner in condom protected anal sex. The condom did not break and I'm pretty sure it was snuggly on there the whole time. I am a man and it was a first and only time encounter with a "high-risk" individual.

Since the encounter I have had the following problems:

Day 5: Pain under my armpit
Day 10 - 20: Intermittent sunburn type rash on my arms only after hot shower; neck pain, sometimes tender in specific spot.
Day 20: Stye (or some kind of lump) on my top eyelid.
Day 20 - 25: Throat discomfort, worse in the morning, possible post-nasal drip (doesn't feel like a normal sore throat attributed to a cold).

(I haven't had any fever or any noticable swelling of glands in my neck.)

I still have very heightened anxiety over this experience and I'm having trouble concentrating on anything else. Also, I have had un-protected sex with my long term partner since the incident and now I fear that I may have jeapodized their health.

I have scheduled an HIV test at the 32 day mark. Can I rely on the results of this test? Would you even recommend testing for HIV from the encounter and symptoms described? Do you think I have put my partner in jeapordy or is this all in my head??

Please forgive the repetition of my post, I feel that I desperately need your advice and I am happy to donate to your organization. Thanks!

Oh.. And could you answer one more quick question. I see a lot of replies regarding risk is essentially non-existant with proper condom use... can you briefly define what proper condom use is?? (besides breaking and falling off)

Thanks!
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If you have read even a minority of my comments, you know that symptoms NEVER are a reliable indicator for or against HIV infection.  That is, your symptoms are irrelevant and I will not comment specifically on them.  If you are concerned about possible HIV exposure, get tested.

Your question allows me the opportunity, for the third time today, to post the following advice:  ".. in general I don't recommend testing for HIV after particular sexual exposures, except in obvious high-risk settings (e.g., unprotected vagainal or anal sex with a known-positive partner). The better approach is periodic routine testing, e.g. every 3-12 months (depending on risk level). Most people at risk do this--unlike most who post questions on this forum, who on average have inflated perceptions of their risks. Here is a good rule of thumb (I just thought of it; don't assume it is a standard recommendation by CDC or any body):  If the risk is high enough to consider PEP, testing should be done. Otherwise periodic routine testing makes more sense."

Proper condom use isn't rocket science, and you already pretty much defined:  The condom is applied before the penis is inserted into the orifice of interest, remains in place until withdrawal, and doesn't break.

HHH, MD
4 Comments
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Thank you for the speedy response. Although you have indicated that you will not discuss my particular "symptoms"; considering my potential risk and physical manifestations, I would appreciate your opinion of whether or not I should be concerned... or am I falling more into the "lighting-strike" category?? Once again, thanks for your time.
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239123_tn?1267651214
As I said above, your symptoms are not a clue about your risk for HIV, one way or the other.  If you're nervous, get tested; your tone suggests that even if I say "lightning strike" range, you're still going to get tested because you will keep worrying until you know the result is negative.  From a medical standpoint, you don't need testing.  Re-read the middle paragraph of my response above.

HHH, MD
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Avatar_n_tn
It's obvious that many people come to this board to seek re-assurances to help them deal with anxiety from "low-risk" situtations. I believe that I am one of those individuals. I feel that if I was in perfect health right now I would be able to rationalize my risk, move on, and not even think about testing. Unfortunately, "the mind is a powerful thing". The combination of anxiety, strange pains, post-nasal drip, and weird after-shower rashes has completly negated my ability to forget it all and move on. Although a "lighting strike" comment may not completely relieve this anxiety, I believe that many people need to hear it from a professional. Once again, I am one of those individuals. Thank you for your time Dr. H and please continue to offer your assurances to those that need them, however silly it may seem.
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
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Edward W Hook, MDBlank
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