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Avatar universal

HIV ANXIETY, WORRY AND EXPOSURE

Hello everyone,

I feel like I need to give something back to this forum as it has helped me through some very hard times recently. After reading what i have to say, hopefully a lot of you will be able to calm down and put things in perspective a bit more.

My Situation:
Back in December i went to Asia to do a bit of travelling and take a break from my boring job! Whilst in Cambodia i met some guys that i quickly became mates with. I was glad to have some company on my trip, as i had spent the most part alone or only with people for short amounts of time. Anyway, one night we all went out and got absolutley smashed. We went to a bar that one of the other guys knew very well and drunk vodka untill 5am. A few of the guys went off somewhere, and it was just me and some other dude i had hardly spoke to left at the bar. I was really drunk by this time. A local girl aproached me from the street and offered me sex. I had never been with a prostitute so i though it would be a funny experience to tell the lads back home. It was only a short strole back to my apartment, so we went back there. I paid her a bit of money and then she proceeded to give me unprotected oral. I then asked if i could **** her. She put a condom on me, however it was really tight on my penis and i couldn't stay hard with it on. I thought '**** that and just pulled it off'. I put my dick in her and penatrated for a while before realizing i was far too drunk to properly do anything and i was quite franky just embarrasing myself! I wiped my penis on the sheets and there didn't seem to be any blood. I wasn't thinking of HIV or STI's at this point. I just didn't want to go to sleep with a messy dick. I can't remember her leaving, but she wasn't there in the morning.
The next day i met up with the guys again at the same bar. They were laughing because they already knew what i had done, as the barman had seen me get approached and then walk off with the hooker. They started teasing me saying that she was the most used prostitute on the street and she was riddled with deceases. Then the barman said 'i hope you bagged up for that', in other words saying 'hope you wore protection'. Thats when my heart dropped and i started getting very worried. I went back to apartment straight away and checked over my penis for any sores or cuts. I ran to an internet cafe so i could look up the symptoms of STI's. Thats when i started reading about HIV. Apart from the initial mistake of having sex with a prostitute unprotected, reading **** on the internet was almost as bad of an idea. I noted all the symptoms of an acute HIV infection, and from that point stuff begain to happen to my body. I woke up on the 3rd day after my exposure feeling a bit weak and aching. Automatically i told myself that was one of the symptoms kicking in to my system, even though it was only 3 days after. I went back to the internet to read about the time scale regarding the symptoms of ARS. It said acute hiv infection will start affecting the body usually between 2 and 6 weeks after exposure. I rang my parents to tell them my problem and they said that it was probably all anxiety and stress about the situation that was making me feel this way. I then started reading more on the internet to see if anxiety could bring on actual physical symptoms. I searched this forum to find answers. I just seemed to find a hell of a lot of people as worried as me after their possible exposures. Although some people on here really don't have any need to be worried because they are talking about contracting HIV from protected intercourse. My main concern at this point was that any worry and anxiety i had experienced in the past had never triggered any physical uncomfort before. I had 3 more weeks before i had to fly home. I tried to enjoy my time in Cambodia but strange things kept happening with my body that in my head reassured me i was 100% HIV positive.
I'd read about fever then soley concentrated on my body temperature. I'd check my throat and tongue everyday for anything suspicious. I would look for rashes around my body every two minutes, whilst using the other hand to search my worrys online in an internet cafe!! I drove my self crazy with worry and anxiety. Within the month after the exposure i had experienced almost every symptom of acute HIV infection. I almost felt that it would be pointless getting a test when i go home because in my head i knew i had it anyway! I had diagnosed myself.
Part of the extreme stress and worry is the fact that you have to wait out the window period before you can even find out what the hell is wrong with you. I even tried to get tested in a clinic in Cambodia but they said i need to wait 3 months. I asked the doctor a few questions about HIV to try and ease my anxiety, but with answers like 1 in 60 people in Cambodia are infected and him saying 'have you thought about the hep c risks aswell' , it just sent me to another level of panic.
Anyway, i flew back to the UK in mid January. I wasn't my normal self around my friends. I didn't have to much to say about my holiday either as i spent most of it in interenet cafes researching symptoms of HIV. I just had to wait a few days more for a test 1 month after the risky exposure. I went into the NHS walk in centre in Leeds city centre and they were very helpful. I got a full STI swab test done, which came back all clear. Next was the blood test for HIV and HEP C. I had to wait nearly 2 weeks before i got a phone call saying that my results had come back Negative. I was relieved however i knew i had to test up till 3 months to be 100% sure of my status.
Now was at home, i had all the time in the world to read about HIV symptoms. Stupidly i kept reasuring myself that something was wrong. I begin feeling for swollen glands in my neck and groin, then feeling other peoples to compare! Any headache was instantly related to the condition and told myself i had. The sore throat was also a symptom i found. I complete ignored the fact that this could have been because of generally being run down and having almost sleepless nights.
I'm telling you all this in depth because i know theres so many people out there just as worried as i was for 3 long months. A few weeks ago i took another test just past 3 months and surprise surprise it came back as a big fat NEGATIVE! I felt like an idiot for working myself up so must about the situation. I can't believe i was instantly putting myself as the '1' in the 1in1000 risk chance statistic after one episode of intercourse.
All you worrying people out there that have had a similar situtuation to me, i hope my story has helped you calm down and put things into perspective. ANXIETY does trigger whatever you are so scared off to come to life. If you focus so much on a part of you body, your brain will follow your instructions to make something happen. You will scare yourself to death doing this, just like i did. Please try and relax. Go and get tested after a month. If it's negative then, you stand an awesome chance of being fine at 3months. Then smack youself on the head and say 'I deserved this for being such a **** in the first place'!

Take care, stay protected. Everyone gets a warning. Don't make the same mistakes twice ;)
Steven x
8 Responses
1076192 tn?1270949128
If only you had used a condom, you wouldn't have had to worry about HIV.Let's hope you've learned your lesson now.
186166 tn?1385262982
not everyone is given a warning...it IS possible to contract hiv from a one time exposure.
Avatar universal
Wow, this was amazingly helpful.  I even had protected sex but I've been going insane!  Had a negative test at 1 month, and yet, cannot stop focusing on symptoms.  I've checked my hands so much that I resemble Lady Macbeth!  To the point that little spots eventually appeared!  Scared me to death!  I'm at 6 weeks now, trying to hang in for another 6 to get conclusive 12 week testing.  Even with me using a condom I'm horrified I've been infected.  Your story definitely has given me hope.
Avatar universal
Thanks for your sorry this was very helpful and has calmed me down a lot. I have had two negative tests now one at 3 weeks and another at 5 months after exposure. I still find myself completely in a state as I have had so many symptoms, which of coourse could be anything!! And of course the internet just makes everything so much worse. This is definately a wake up call and a lesson well learnt but it helps to know that others have experienced the anxiety which I also believe can actually manifest into the symptoms themselve as I literallt thought I was the only one. I know i'll never put myself in that situation again and hope it helps those reading.
1469227 tn?1293114480

Hi,

Thanks for your post. I had a symilar situation. Had unprotected sex, and drove my self craizy thinking that I had contracted HIV. Symptoms, a lot! Enlarged lymph nodes, hand shaking, profusse night sweats, neurophaties in the legs, rash, herpes-like infection in tongue. Not all the symptoms at the same time. Only enlarged lymph nodes and neuropathies lasted for about four or five months, but the other symptoms lasted much less, and one afther the other.

Emotionally, I was broken. Couldn't sleep, nor work or live.

However all my tests have come negative. Sixteen of them! Including 3rd and 4th generation ELISA, Western-Blot, two quantitative RNA PCR, one qualitative DNA PCR, and a p24 test. Several of these tests were done well before the three and six month mark. And were performed in different labs.

I mean, symptoms can't diagnose HIV.

Some notes, three month mark is conclusive for people with normal immune system (the exceptions are people under chemotherapy and other strong conditions). PCR tests, although sensitive can lead to false positives. In USA they are approved for diagnosis. The most secure way to test is to use a third our four generation ELISA at three months. If you test negative at two months with a modern ELISA (3rd our 4th generation), then is very very likely you are negative at three monts (but it is conclusive only at three months). Labs are constatnly cheking the accuracy of their tests to detect all HIV variants. There is a web page call Pubmed where scientific information can be found regarding HIV, however only an expert can interpret accurately that information. Anxiety can led you to do very wild things, like I did geting all those tests.

Hope my experience helps to others!

Jose
Avatar universal
The only PCR test approved in the US for helping diagnose early HIV infection is a PCR-RNA test and it has to be use in conjunction with an antibody test.
1469227 tn?1293114480

Ok Teak, thanks for the correction.

Jose
Avatar universal
Thank you for that post, I'm still worried. And constantly checking my hands chest tongue  and all lymph nodes for HIV Symtoms, and I've found them all including the flakey rash. But ur situation is hopeful for me.
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