I want to share my story for anyone who has had anxiety over a recent exposure and how that anxiety can become extremely overwhelming and cause the most relatively uncommon symptoms.
I am a 25 year old male living in west hollywood, ca. I had a rather risky exposure -- unprotected insertive anal with a female massage parlor CSW. I mention west hollywood because there is a relatively high risk here although the residents here are very educated on HIV and AIDS...it's still an area of higher than average HIV positive residents for the U.S.
3 days post-exposure, I had a 1 day fever. Didn't think much of it. 2 weeks later I had a hard time focusing. I'm at work when this bout of headaches, focusing issues, and a detached feeling set in. I left work immediately thinking this was HIV setting in from my exposure 2-3 weeks earlier. I walked all up and down Santa Monica blvd, bordering breaking down, contemplating suicide, wondering how I would tell the 2 girls that I had been with that I had exposed them to HIV (these are friends of mine). I went immediately to the clinic and got tested for the gamut. I was told that I had no antibodies present from the rapid testing so I hadn't had contracted HIV in the pat 3 months...but my test was 17 days in and was during the window period. I had to wait 2 weeks for the rest of the STD testing to come back. Mind you I was in such a neurotic yet aloof state and erratic at that I couldn't recall which tests I took exactly outside of rapid. Over the course of the next 10 weeks I felt every ARS symptom and sensation there was to feel. After 2 weeks I got no call from the clinic so I figured I was in the clear for all other STDs...there was a little relief because if I tested negative for those then it would certainly be harder to contract HIV....but I'm still freaking out. I had headaches, lost feeling in all my limbs, muscle aches, diarrhea, stomach issues, boils on my inner thighs, a slight cough, tension everywhere, joint pains, thought I had thrush, a sore throat every now and again, low grade fever, night sweats, nightmares, extremely dry skin, lost 10 lbs in 2 weeks. I had it all and had never been the one to have anxiety as I had always seen myself as being pretty chill, so I was most certain I had contracted HIV. All the while im still active without using a condom with one girl. She started to get sick and had a cough. I started noticing little spots pop up on her body and then one day she vaginally bled out of nowhere. I was certain I had exposed her. I didn't know what I was going to do.
To cut to the chase this miserable reality went on for a little over 3 months until I finally decided to accept my fate and start to live HIV positive. I went to the clinic and I was asked why I was back. I told the nurse that I was in the window period when I took my rapid test. She asked me if I had had another risky exposure during those 3 months I told her most certainly not. She then asked me if I had realized that 10 weeks earlier when I had come in that I also took the NAAT test which specifically test for the virus and is accurate at 10-12 days. I took it at 17. This entire time I had not noticed that I had been negative months but because I was concerned with the window period, the power of my mind took over and convinced of all these symptoms that were purely associated with anxiety.
I hope this helps. I spent too much time on the Internet searching for symptoms and anxiety relief...get off the internet after reading this...you'll be fine. I had an incredibly high exposure and ended up being ok.
Thanks for reading