I just want to start by saying it makes me so angry reading all the posts here and online, as it seems everyone has such an irrational fear of catching HIV from tiny risk factors and don't believe anyone who re-assures them (e.g. shaking hands, kissing, or "my condom broke for 2 seconds and I went on PEP straight away" etc.). It doesn't take much research to know there's no point in posting questions like that. It's really irritating to read, especially for someone who has actually gone through real risk and is trying to get that risk assessed.
I'm frequently mis-judged as a hypochondriac by doctors, and I now realise why. It's because of everyone else!. Whenever I've been ill in the past (glandular fever, tooth infection, vitamin deficiency..etc.), doctors dismissed my fears as stress or anxiety. It was almost an impossible task to persuade them to do the necessary blood tests and diagnosis was always delayed as a result, only to later discover the doctors were wrong (it wasn't stress) and I was right. The simple fact is I know what I'm talking about. That does not make me a hypochondriac.
I have never taken part in risky sexual behaviour or drugs, and that's what's so annoying about this situation.
After several months, myself and my long term monogamous partner decided it was time to stop using condoms (There was pressure from him, but I wanted to as well), so we sought to get tested together. The gum clinic refused to us a test together, saying we had to go separately. Their reasoning was that “trust is a matter for the relationship, not the health services.” I couldn’t believe my ears. I tried to persuade several different nurses, but all refused. We had already been tested separately, and he showed me his negative result. We then started having unprotected sex (about once or twice a week).
2 weeks later, I discovered he was in fact HIV+, had shown me a fake negative result, and wasn’t taking medication. I discovered all of this around 2 weeks after we started unprotected sex, and was horrified of course.
I went on PEP (truvada and raltegravir) straight away which I took religiously for a month. However, I’m aware it only covers the final time we had unprotected sex (48 hours before PEP). It obviously won’t cover the 2 or so exposures prior to that. I’m top which I know is a lower risk, but I’m uncut, and he wasn’t taking meds, which most risk assessment doesn’t seem to take into account increases the risk.
I finished my month of PEP 3 weeks ago, with no symptoms. I had a negative HIV result at my end of PEP. The GUM clinic doctor insisted I’m HIV- at the end of PEP test, and told me it was basically definitive and that being a huge clinic they’ve never had a positive result after PEP, so I should relax and celebrate my result. He said the 3 month test is a technicality. However, I think he’s wrong. Research and common sense tells me the end of PEP HIV test cannot be relied upon, particularly in this case; I had about 2 exposures before the 72 hours PEP window period, and 1 exposure within the window period.
Therefore, (assuming no drug resistance) if I was infected prior to the 72 hours, surely PEP would merely stop the virus multiplying, thus delaying antibodies from forming, thus delaying ARS and delaying the HIV+ result?
For the last 7 weeks I’ve been fraught with worry and to be honest I’m actually terrified. Especially knowing I did everything I could, and the stigma associated with HIV, and how everyone assumes you had to do something bad to catch it. How can you plan against someone deliberately pulling the wool over your eyes and trying to infect you. It's impossible, no relationship would ever work on that basis.
I appreciate there will be some people out there saying “well, you could ALWAYS use a condom, even in a monogamous long term relationship”. However, whilst I deeply respect and admire the fact that some people are able to do this in a long term relationship, not everyone is able to have intercourse comfortably or even feel the level of intimacy they need with a condom. I would put it out there that some people *need* to feel a level of intimacy that makes them happy. For many people in a monogamous relationship, using a condom forever lacks a natural level of intimacy and “closeness”.
It’s now 3 weeks after I finished PEP, and for the last week I have been experiencing fatigue, sore throat, and now swollen glands on my neck. I'm educated, careful, I’ve taken extremely good care of my health my whole life, I don’t sleep around and have never taken risks, yet now I’m scared I have HIV because of him.
To be honest, I'm terrified.