Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your question.
The vast majority of apparent "HIV symptoms", as you put it in the title you gave this thread, in fact are not due to HIV. That's the case even in people at very high risk for HIV, either by general lifestyle or a recent exposure. HIV symptoms are nonspecific, meaning the same ones occur with many other medical conditions in addition to HIV. If you were to make a list of the 10 or so most common symptoms of a new HIV infection, they would overlap with those of at least a hundred other health problems, most of which are more common and less serious than HIV.
Herpes zoster (shingles) is an excellent case in point. As you may know, it's a recurrence of childhood chickenpox. The virus is called varicella zoster virus, or VZV ["varicella" = c'pox, "zoster" = shingles]. After chickenpox the virus persists for life in spinal nerves and once in a while reactivates as a localized infection along the path served by that particular nerve. Shingles is a bit more common in HIV infected persons, but the large majority of people with it don't have HIV. (I had it myself a few years ago, and my son had it at age 13.) For sure it wasn't an HIV rash, which doesn't behave at all like you describe; and almost any doctor can reliably recognize the rash of shingles. Headache commonly accompanies or follows the outbreak, so that symptom also doesn't concern me in regard to HIV. Finally, when herpes zoster does occur with HIV, it's a sign of advanced infection (AIDS), not generally with early infection.
For all those reasons, plus the fact that your extramarital sexual partner is unlikely to have HIV (assuming she's not an IV drug user, an immigrant from an HIV-endemic country, etc). Penile softening during sex doesn't make it unsafe, as long as the condom remains in place.
Therefore, from a strictly medical standpoint I see no need for HIV testing. However, you still might benefit from being tested. Most people in your situation are more reassured by a negative test result than anything an expert can say based on statistics and probabilities. If you think that applies to you, get tested. Based on all you have said, I am 100% confident the result will be negative.
I hope this has helped. Best regards-- HHH, MD
Dear Dr. HHH,
I appreciate your prompt reply and thank-you for such a definitive answer. It has reassured me. I believe that I've become way to hyper sensitive to any symptom I have since the event. My wife recently experienced a fever, soare throat, head aches, night sweats and breathing congestion. It immediately brought back a lot of emotions and made me feel as though I had exposed her to HIV even though I believe that is not the case. I plan on getting tested just to put the emotions to bed. I would also like to talk to a professional therapist about the event. I'm deeply in love with my wife and this act has made me feel like the scum of the earth and she keeps asking me if everything is ok. Do you have any recommendations of what type of therapist I should look for? I never want this to happen again and I know if I told her it would break her heart and she would never want to talk to me again. Caring this guilt Is killing me.
What tests should I ask my DR to run? I have seen him for years and I'm embarrassed to even discuss with him.
This information does not change my opinion or advice. Your wife's symptoms do not hint at HIV. You should not request any specific tests from your doctor. You should explain your symptoms, and your sexual exposure, let the doctor examine you, then follow his or her advice if s/he thinks any particular tests are negative. You should also trust your doctor with your guilt and other feelings about your sexual indiscretion. As for embarrassment, just suck it up: you will not be telling your doctor anything that s/he has not heard many times over the years. And you can trust his or her confidentiality, i.e. to not mention such information to your wife.
Hi Dr. HHH,
Thank-you for your assertive reply. I did go to my doctor and he had all the std tests run including HIV which was my big concern. I'm happy to say that all test came back negative and given its been almost 4 months since the even, I'm no longer concerned. My Dr was very understanding as you had pointed out. Again thanks for the great work you do on this board and for taking time to reply to my posts!
I'm glad to have helped, and happy to hear about the very satisfactory outcome on several levels. Thanks for the thanks.