Avatar universal

Constantly getting colds - indicative of HIV?

I am a 22 year old gay male. Since November 2010, I have been in a committed relationship with one male. I had an HIV test in March 2011, four months after meeting him, and it was negative.

Before meeting me, he (says he) had not had penetrative sex. I have no reason to doubt this. We have had regular unprotected sex with each other.

Here's my concern: we both always seem to be ill. We always seems to get a runny nose, headache, fever, diarrhoea and tiredness. What makes me especially worried is that an NHS website in the UK states the following:

"Some people when first infected with HIV may experience symptoms similar to flu-like symptoms (sometimes known as seroconversion illness, or primary HIV infection). This may include:
• sore throat
• muscle aches and pains
• skin rash
• diarrhoea and / or vomiting / nausea
• high temperature / fever
• headaches / fatigue

These symptoms may be the body’s first reaction to being infected with HIV and may last up to several months"

I have read comments by you which state such cold symptoms will typically appear a short while after infection and then  will NOT reappear. Yet that website suggests they "may last up to several months". Which is correct? Is getting a cold-like symptoms on-and-off over a period of months/years indicative of HIV infection?

In particular, what about chronic diarrhoea, fever and tiredness?

I know the answer is to get a test. And I will do that. But I can't contain my anxiety and worry at the moment. I am absolutely terrified and need to go into the test centre with a clearer idea of the potential for a bad result.

Thanks for your advice.
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239123 tn?1267647614
I'm not sure about current estimates of the prevalence of HIV in London area men who have sex with men.  One in 7 sounds too high for gay men in general, but it could be true for some, e.g. those who are frequently and outwardly unsafe (frequent anonymous partners, barebacking, etc).  The GUM clinic will know; or you could look up information from the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA); I imagine they have a website and/or a public information phone number.  The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) also would be an excellent source.
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239123 tn?1267647614
Welcome to the forum.  Thanks for your question.

The symptoms of initial HIV infection are called the acute retroviral syndrome, or ARS.  It always starts within a couple weeks of exposure and rarely lasts more than 4-6 weeks.  Cold symptoms (runny nose, congestion, cough) are not part of the picture.  And frequent colds also are not evidence of an  than in those without it.

And a general point we have made repeatedly on this forum is that symptoms rarely are reliable indicators either for or against HIV.  Even the most typical ARS or AIDS symptoms are nonspecific, i.e. they occur more commonly in other, usually minor medical conditions.  If your case, it sounds like you and your partner have had allergies or just an unlucky series of colds.

So you are entirely correct that the answer to your anxiety about this is to be tested for HIV.  While it seems your partner hasn't had sex with anyone else, multiple partnerships are very common amoung young gay men.  Even in apparently monogamous relationships, all gay or bi men should have periodic routine testing for HIV (and other STDs), like once a year or thereabouts.  On that basis alone, it's time for you to be tested -- but that advice has nothing to do with your symptoms.

So my advice is that both you and your partner visit your local NHS GUM clinic for routine HIV/STD testing (or a private sexual health clinic if you prefer and have the means, e.g. London's excellent Freedom Health Clinic).  In the meantime, if your and your partner's sexual histories are accurate, you need not worry.  You can expect negative test results.

Best wishes--  HHH, MD
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Avatar universal
Oh my gosh, I just nearly fainted after reading that "research suggests 1 in 7 men on the gay ‘scene’ in London is HIV positive". WHAT? I never imagined it was so widespread. I am absolutely terrified and sweating/shaking with worry right now.
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