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Author Topic: Scared for me and my girlfriend. Symptoms, risk?  (Read 3831 times)

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Offline Toei

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Scared for me and my girlfriend. Symptoms, risk?
« on: April 17, 2007, 06:41:16 AM »
Hi everyone.

I am 23 years old, heterosexual male, from Norway. This is my first post on this forum, after lurking here for some time. As is the case of most posters here, i am struck with fear of begin infected with hiv. Why? Because of symptoms:/

I do believe my fears are irrational as my "risks" should be quite neglectable, so here goes:

"Risk 1":

I have had protected sex with 8 different girls, on all occasions one night stands, except with one girl that i might have had sex with 10-20 times. All these girls were (to my knowledge) non-drug users and none of them were immigrants. All were aged 17-24. I cannot explicitly remember any condom breakage with these girls, however i remember a slight fear of making one of them pregnant(which might have been due to a condom breakage that I cannot remember now, and that I at the time didn't consider much of a risk). Still, there are only about 100 hiv pos that fits to those criteria in the entire country, the majority of which are located in the capital where I don't live. Additionally, although i am having unprotected risk with my current girlfriend, which indeed _should_ be the largest risk(although i know her sexual history), I don't consider this a risk for myself at all. How irrational. Anyways, this is why I am the most scared... Of putting her to a risk of hiv:(

"Risk2":

About 4 years ago, i stepped on something sharp while visiting the capital. I was at the time a bit drunk and walking in a street where there are some drug addicts. Once again, only about 0.4% of the injecting drug users are hiv pos, however this is my largest fear. Yeye, I know that _if_ the stats from hiv infections in occuptaional setting form needlesticks are used, the risk only amounts to about 1/100 000. That is, if it was indeed a needle i stepped on, and disregarding posts on this forum that states hiv infection cannot occur through needlesticks outside healtcare settings. As a sidenote, I don't understand why this cannot be. If  e.g. the needle was discarded just previous to the accident, shouldn't this amount to the same as an occupational injury. Also,  the research in my opinion is based on too few subjects to be entirely valid regarding non-occuptational needle stick injuries. Can someone explain this further perhaps? What about hep c?

"Risk3":

Fingering a girl with a somewhat deep cut (from a breadknife some hours earlier). The cut didn't bleed when fingering, and I have found thorough explanations as to why this isn't a risk on these forums. Anways , it still scares me a bit.

On to my symptoms:

Last summer i got some wierd rash in my neck below my hairline with initially few bumps on my left side and then the following week(s) extending somewhat with occasional bumps on the right occipital region as well.  The total amount of these bumps were 20-30. A hard lymph node that waxed and wained throughout the day was discovered in the same region.

When this rash hadn't resolved the next two months i presented them to my doctor, that said they were some kind of viral infection, perhaps molluscum, and that it was nothing to worry about. He also said that the lymph node might be due to the skin infection.

I researched molluscum on the internet, and found it stated several places that it could be found in people with hiv, and that molluscum in the face/neck region especially could indicate hiv infection. Since my doctor hadn't mentioned it, and since i was practising martial arts with alot of skin contact, i didn't really think much of it after the initial scare. This would have been apprx 3 years after the first and 1 year after the llast possible "risk".

However, recently i discovered that the lymph node still persists. It might have wained some, but it is certainly still there, probably 1 cm and a bit hard. I might have a similar, although  smaller lymph node on the other side as well. This cares me, although i have had painful muscles in my neck/shoulder region for a long time.  Can painful muscles cause lymph node enlargement?

Additionally, my right tonsil have been wierd/irritated for some time, with a swollen lymph node below the jaw as well. After reading of persistent lymph nodes as a symptom of hiv, i have checked further. Two shotty nodes(?) are on each side of my neck, and i have bumps in the inguinal region, although I cannot say for certain that these are abnormally enlarged lymph nodes. A doctor described my neck as having "several palpable nodes" when i went to him with my throat issues and recieved a referral to ent(which didn't find anything except that my nose was a bit irritated).

Regarding ARS symptoms, I cannot remember being sick for more than two days the last 6 or so years.

My own conclusion:

The persisting lymph node, with potential others and thinking back to the molluscum episode have led me to this scare. I know my risks are minute, but rational thinking doesn't seem to help much. Wow, this was a long post.

I am probably a hypocondriac.

Anyways, I am going to call the hospital requesting a test when they open the phone service shortly. I hope some of you might give me some encouraging words, and wish me luck. Thank you:)



Offline Ann

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Re: Scared for me and my girlfriend. Symptoms, risk?
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2007, 06:46:25 AM »
Toei,

Symptoms, or even the lack of symptoms, means nothing when it comes to hiv infection. Only a test will reliably reveal your hiv status.

The only thing you list above that is a risk is the unprotected intercourse you're having with your girlfriend. You may think you know her sexual history, but you never know. You should not be having unprotected intercourse with anyone unless you have tested together with them and know their hiv status for certain.

You need to be using condoms for anal or vaginal intercourse, every time, no exceptions until such time as you are in a securely monogamous relationship where you have both tested for ALL STIs together. To agree to have unprotected intercourse is to consent to the possibility of being infected with a sexually transmitted infection. Sex with a condom lasts only a matter of minutes, but hiv is forever.

Have a look through the condom and lube links in my signature line so you can use condoms with confidence.

Anyone who is sexually active should be having a full sexual health care check-up, including but not limited to hiv testing, at least once a year and more often if unprotected intercourse occurs.

If you aren't already having regular, routine check-ups, now is the time to start. As long as you make sure condoms are being used for intercourse, you can fully expect your routine hiv tests to return with negative results. Don't forget to always get checked for all the other sexually transmitted infections as well, because they are MUCH easier to transmit than hiv.

You and your girlfriend need to start using condoms and you both need to test together three months after your last unprotected encounter.

Ann
Condoms are a girl's best friend

Condom and Lube Info  



"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Offline Toei

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Re: Scared for me and my girlfriend. Symptoms, risk?
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2007, 08:23:38 AM »
Thank you for your answer. I have now got an appointment for testing tomorrow. Could someone please elaborate as to why the needle isn't a risk? Does f.ex the potential blood on the tip disappear when penetrating the sole of the shoe?

Offline Ann

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  • It just is, OK?
    • Num is sum qui mentiar tibi?
Re: Scared for me and my girlfriend. Symptoms, risk?
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2007, 09:28:32 AM »
Toei,

Hiv is a fragile, difficult to transmit virus. Small changes in moisture content, temperature and pH levels will all quickly damage the virus and a damaged hiv virus cannot infect.

Sharing needles is a risk when an hiv positive person uses the needle and immediately passes it on to an hiv negative person for use. When a drug user injects drugs, they insert the needle into a vein, and pull back on the plunger to bring blood into the barrel of the syringe, so they know they definitely have a vein. When they see the blood, they can then inject the contents of the syringe.

Small amounts of blood will remain INSIDE the needle and barrel of the syringe. The next person to use the needle will inject this left-over blood DIRECTLY into their blood stream.

In the case of stepping on a discarded needle, you will only be exposed to blood that may be left on the outside of the needle. Blood on the outside of a needle left lying around would be far too damaged by exposure to the environment to be able to infect. Also, this blood would only be exposed to the outer layers of skin. As you have read with the fingering with a cut situations, hiv cannot infect this way.

Needle-sticks with discarded needles out on the street as a transmission route is nothing more than an urban myth. Not one person has ever been infected with hiv in this manner.

It's good to hear that you will test, as any sexually active person should do this as a matter of routine. Make sure your girlfriend tests as well, and use condoms in the meantime.

By the way, I expect you to test negative, but hiv is nothing to guess about. Test - both of you - and be certain.

Ann
Condoms are a girl's best friend

Condom and Lube Info  



"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Offline Toei

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  • Posts: 4
Re: Scared for me and my girlfriend. Symptoms, risk?
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2007, 04:25:25 AM »
Hi again. I got tested yesterday, and should receive the results in apprx a week. This truly is a scary experience, however my nerves are calmed somewhat after reading your post about needles. Having spoken to my girlfriend, I know that her risks are even less than mine. Thus, the only possible risk factor would be if the condom was broken sometime that i cannot remember.

 I have experienced breakage with my girlfriend before she started on the pill, so i know what it looks like. I might, however, not remember the breakage explicitly if such an episode didn't scare me regarding stds/hiv at that time. Rather, im scared because i do remember checking my condom often for breakage in the more recent sexual experiences, and for being "afraid" of pregnancy due to precum with one or two girls. I suppose, i shouldn't have been afraid of such if the condoms remained intact. But then again, these were my two first sexual experiences, something that might have some influence. Adding the time issue together with me not being sober doesn't exactly help my memory:(  Anyways, the amount of hiv infected girls with the cultural background/age of those i had sexy with, really is close to zero, so my risk should be low even if such a breakage should have happened. The uncertainty is nagging me though.

Oh and to the needle issue, I am starting to understand now - at least why such infection is highly unlikely. But why would only this blood be exposed to the outer layers of the skin, as my (potential) needle could have entered quite deep?. In other words, if the needle was discarded just minutes before my accident, shouldn't this be similar an accident in a hospital setting?

Thank you once again for your answers. I hope not to meet you guys in the "newly infected" forum a week from now.


Offline Ann

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    • Num is sum qui mentiar tibi?
Re: Scared for me and my girlfriend. Symptoms, risk?
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2007, 05:04:19 AM »
Toei,

For a start, you "stepped on something sharp". Have you ever knowingly stepped on a needle or pin? It hurts like hell and even if you were drunk at the time, you would have stopped and investigated what was causing you that intense pain. I really doubt that you stepped on a needle at all.

Even in occupational exposures, it is rare for the person to become hiv positive as a result. To quote Tim Horn -

Let's take a look a the example of healthcare workers, considered to be at the highest risk of occupational HIV exposure. Approximately 600,000 to 800,000 needle-stick injuries occur in the United States annually. Yet, as of September 2000 (according to CDC documentation), only 97 cases of occupationally acquired HIV infection had been documented worldwide, with 52 of these occurring in the United States.


You have to remember that in occupational exposures, the dangerous  ones are when the needle has gone directly from patient to healthcare worker. We're not talking about needles lying around. Infection just doesn't happen like that.

You can worry all you want, but it's not going to change the fact that you are very likely to be hiv negative. Stay productively busy while you wait on your results and the time will go much faster.

Ann
Condoms are a girl's best friend

Condom and Lube Info  



"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Offline Toei

  • Member
  • Posts: 4
Re: Scared for me and my girlfriend. Symptoms, risk?
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2007, 08:01:57 AM »
Hi once again. I just went to my doctors to ask if the results were in, I am negative:) Thank you for your support regarding the needle accident, Ann. I feel somewhat numb now. All kinds of scenarios have been going through my head lately, how to tell, who to tell, how my life would be etc.. if in fact i was positive. Even though I have lost some study time, and have some catchup to do on my masters report, at least now my worries are over.

Still, I would say something good have come out of this for me personally.  I have gained a much deeper insight into HIV/AIDS, myself and the life of those infected by spending hours daily reading this site. I really feel for all of those infected, and what they are going through. For myself, the largest scare was regarding the stigma towards the disease, an issue that certainly need more focus in the media here in Norway ( and probably the rest of the world ). I also hope and believe in better medicines in the near future, and hopefully a vaccine and cure not too far off. Indeed, reading research and news regarding these issues have given me a more positive outlook on the disease.

Good luck to all of you that are reading this forum, dealing with scares that are more or less "warranted". And to all current, and future victims of the disease; my thoughts are with you. Sorry for the "clichéness" of this post, if it is perceived as such.

Thank you. Everyone.


 


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