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Author Topic: HIV, Anxiety or Something Else?  (Read 14520 times)

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Offline nido

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HIV, Anxiety or Something Else?
« on: August 11, 2007, 01:39:06 AM »
Hello, I am new to this forum. If you have any thoughts about my situation and the questions below, I welcome your comments. Thank you so much.
I am a male adult 30 yrs old. About 6 weeks (Jul 2) ago I had protected sex with a young female prostitute in Bangkok. She performed oral sex for 2 minutes and then intercourse for 2 minutes (she was on top) and I came. She seemed to be careful with the condom and took precautions. The condom did not seem to break but I did not examine it afterwards for leaks.

Q1) Is it ok to do a blowjob on a condom and then use the same condom for intercourse? Will the blowjob do any damage to the condom like cause leaks?

The next day (Jul 3), I had liposuction surgery at a well known hospital there (Bumrungrad Intl) which was really the purpose of my visit to Thailand. I am also afraid that maybe I contracted the HIV virus during the surgery as well (but hopefully this is unlikely given its high international standards). They did some 'anti-hiv' tests before the surgery but obviously it was too soon to detect anything. In the weeks after surgery, I developed 2-3 small fevers which did not last more than a day or two and which i perceived as normal.

Now, I know you will say there is no risk due to the condom usage but please read on.

About exactly 4 weeks after the exposure (Aug 1) I started developing symptoms that indicate HIV and I have started going crazy with worry. First, I had a rash on my upper chest, one side of the neck and one armpit and across my stomach. Tiny red and somewhat itchy spots that were initially raised but disappeared within a day or two. Well, they are flat now and hardly visible but sometimes itch if I scratch them. I thought it might be due to the compression garment I had to wear as part of the surgery recovery and that it was causing heat or sweat rash (I had been wearing it continuously for a month without washing it). However the rashes weren't limited to just the vest area but also the neck. I removed the vest to wash it and the rash did not recur although I still do get one or two spots here and there now and then at different parts of the body, again somewhat itchy. I checked my neck and armpits and did not feel any swollen lymph nodes. I should also mention that about the same time just preceding the rash, my bedroom was sprayed with strong insecticide. I waited for a few days until the smell had reduced but slept for 2 days there. I thought maybe this might have caused the rash too or the bugs that may have emerged from my mattress. I have stopped sleeping in this room now.

Q2) Do you know the effects of insecticide on the immune system? Can this mimic the effects of HIV symptoms and seroconversion?

Q3) Are the rashes caused by HIV itchy? Do they disappear after a day or two but then come again as isolated small spots around the body?

However, the rash was soon folllowed by low-high fever which has lasted for the past 7 days, on and off. I have been really stressed out and don't know if this is causing further symptoms. I also had some night sweats and chills very early on. I cannot sleep and this is causing me to become more fatigued in the mornings with headaches. I had some aches and pains at different parts of the body on different days.

Recently, for the past 4 days, I have been urinating frequently (upto 8 times a day) but it is painless and mostly clear. Also experiencing mild chronic diarrhea on some days. I also have a somewhat dry mouth now and have been checking my tongue and I seem to have some small white patches around the edges but not sure it is thrush. it does not disappear if I scratch it. My tongue appears especially withered on the sides in the morning and my throat very dry then too. I am feeling a sore throat coming on now. I don't feel particularly nauseous and have not lost my appetite, no weight loss or gain. It is almost the 6 week mark now and I still feel most of these symptoms.

Q4) Could anxiety cause the dry mouth and does that in turn cause the white patches? Is this candida? Could anxiety cause frequent urination like this? Is frequent urination a symptom of HIV? I think I feel more hot when I worry about my situation. If I go outside or see a movie, I don't feel so feverish. I should also mention I have been somewhat stressed throughtout the past 4 weeks due to the surgery recovery and other factors in my life but no symptoms until the last week after the rash.

Normally I would dismiss many of these symptoms as par for course, but since it happened right 4 weeks after the intercourse and in the window for HIV symptoms, and are so simultaneous, there seems to be few other explanations. Hopefully the condom indeed protected me.

Q5) Can you offer any other explanations that explain these symptoms apart from HIV? Perhaps any other infection like Mono/EBV? What about the surgery? Will major cosmetic surgery like this cause immune suppression? I guess what I am really looking for is do you know of people who have had all these symptoms simulataneously after exposure and not had HIV but something else? That would be very reassuring 

Q6) If I take a HIV test, I heard that it only tests for production of antibodies. If any other disease like pesticide causes immune suppression and consequent production of antibodies, will that cause the tests to be positive?

Please help. I am currently living in a small town in India where everyone knows everyone and I have to wait for about 2-3 weeks before moving to another city and getting the HIV tests done or seeing a confidential doctor. I am going crazy with worry in the meantime. Thanks again for your help and support.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2007, 03:17:43 AM by nido »

Offline Ann

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Re: HIV, Anxiety or Something Else?
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2007, 06:12:11 AM »

1. If the condom had been damaged during the blowjob, it would have broken during the intercourse. Damaged condoms are designed to break in a very noticeable way. They don't develop leaks, they split completely.

By the way, the condom during the blowjob was more for HER protection, not yours. Getting a blowjob is NOT a risk for hiv infection, with or without a condom.

2. I've never heard of insecticides mimicking seroconversion. However, you need to know that seroconversion symptoms, if they happen at all (they often don't), are very general symptoms, like flu. As far as I am aware, insecticides affect the nervous system, not the immune system.

3. The rash associated with hiv seroconversion is NOT itchy. If it appears at all, it is normally on the trunk and it does not come and go. From what you report, it sounds like your rash was caused by poor hygiene.

4. Neither a white tongue nor frequent urination are hiv specific. They can indicate many other things - if you're concerned about either of these problems, you'll have to see your doctor about it. We cannot possibly diagnose you or speculate as to what is going on.

5. Again, we cannot possibly diagnose you or speculate as to what is going on. If you're worried, see your doctor.

6. There are certain things, like pregnancy, that can sometimes cause false positive results. Insecticides are not one of the causes of false positives and I trust you're not pregnant.

The bottom line here is that you have not had a risk for hiv infection during the sexual experience you bring to us. As for your medical procedure, Thai medics use universal precautions just like any other medical personnel and they would not put you at risk for hiv.

You have not had a risk for hiv infection in ANYTHING you bring to us. If you're worried about your physical symptoms, see your doctor. They're not being caused by hiv.


Condoms are a girl's best friend

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"...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 nido

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Re: HIV, Anxiety or Something Else?
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2007, 04:48:18 PM »
Thanks very much for replying Ann! It helps a lot. Especially your reassurances about the condoms. It's good to know they are designed to break completely and not leak.

What I meant with the insecticide is that if it 'could' damage the immune system like HIV does, even temporarily, it might cause similar symptoms and naturally the body will react by producing necessary antibodies (seroconvert) and finally therefore show false positives on tests. Of course, in this hypothetical scenario, I would hope the effects of the insecticide are temporary not permanent like HIV.

I know I am somewhat grasping at straws in my comments. (Also looking at mono, diabetes, water poisoning as other explanations). I'm an engineer and I need a cause for an effect). I just need some alternate explanation for some hope to hold onto to explain the weird coincidence of symptoms like the fever, white tongue etc. Hope and Faith in Goa is all I got right now.

Anyway, will keep you and other curious readers updated. Thanks agaiin.

Offline Ann

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Re: HIV, Anxiety or Something Else?
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2007, 07:29:05 PM »

If you need an explanation for your physical problems, then you need to go see a doctor who can look and diagnose. We cannot do that here.

You did not have a risk for hiv infection in anything you brought to us. Keep using condoms and you won't have a risk in future either.

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 sexually transmitted infections together. To agree to have unprotected intercourse is to consent to the possibility of being infected with an STI. Sex with a condom lasts only a matter of minutes, but hiv is forever.

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

Although you do not need to test over the situations you bring to us, 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.

Use condoms, correctly and consistently, and you will avoid hiv infection. It really is that simple!

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 nido

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Re: HIV, Anxiety or Something Else?
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2007, 11:47:15 AM »
Hello again,

I am finally going to get tested next week at the 9 week mark. I know you have always insisted I do not have a risk but the symptoms are just so overwhelming and persist. I just have a couple more questions, it would be great to have your opinions.

1) I heard that all ARS symptoms come and go at the same time. Is this true? My rash went in about 3 days and my fever went in ~9 days. Are they connected? In your previous response, when you said rash does not come and go, do you mean it would be present as long as the fever is present?

2) How long does ARS last at the max? 4 weeks after my rash appeared and 8 weeks after my exposure, I am still having frequent urination and fatigue, insomnia, mild diarrhea etc. Wouldn't it be true that after seroconversion, all your symptoms should go?

3) Also I did not mention this before, but I have been losing a lot of hair - again around the same time the rash and fever appeared, so don't think it is anxiety related. Is hair loss a common ARS symptom or early indication of hiv? I know hair loss can be caused by other auto immune diseases like lupus, diabetes, thyroid disorders.

4) I am seeing some new white spots on the side of my tongue this week looks like OHL (8 weeks after exposure) and experiencing dry mouth again.  Is this also a typical ARS symptom and why would it appear now again at 8 weeks? A light fever and sore throat seem to be coming on too.

Thanks very much. I am getting so freaked out since I can't find any other answers to my symptoms.

Offline Ann

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Re: HIV, Anxiety or Something Else?
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2007, 12:47:33 PM »

How could your symptoms have anything to do with hiv, when you didn't have a risk?

As I told you a few weeks ago, if you're worried about your physical problems, you need to talk to a doctor.

When you get your negative result next week, you can consider it conclusive as you did not have a risk.

Don't bother coming back to repeat your symptoms list - we will not discuss your symptoms with you. See your doctor.

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 nido

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Re: HIV, Anxiety or Something Else?
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2007, 11:22:28 AM »
Hey everyone, I finally tested for the first time ever after 9 weeks (63 days) for the Rapid tests. NEGATIVE! Wanted to post my results here on Tues but then I read some thread here comparing different tests and how ELISA was the gold standard… So I sweated some more and went back to the clinic to get tested for that too (they normally don’t do it in India unless the first test is positive). Anyway, got those results today, also negative!

My symptoms ~4 weeks after my exposures. Heck, even a celibate monk would get worried.   

- Rash: Macropopulous, slightly raised multiple (like 30-40) red pimple like spots on upper chest, neck and stomach, spread at random, some itchy but not much. Disappeared after about 3-4 days
- Fever: Mild to high and lasted for 8-9 days. I’ve hardly ever had a fever last more than 3 days before. At times I was burning hot all over.
- White Tongue: I’m not talking about the stuff in the middle of the tongue. I had distinct white patches and bumps and a pale white coating on both the sides of my tongue, accompanied by what looked like teeth marks and sounded very much like OHL. Was a horrible sight in the mornings.
- Dry Mouth and excessive thirst
- Peeling Skin/Slow Healing Sores: Especially on both my elbows and palms which sounded like psoriasis. Took like 2-3 weeks to heal.
- Lumps/Lymph Nodes: Didn’t see any on my neck or armpits but couple definitely on my arms which are still there. Hard nodule kind of things about 2cm in diameter
- Frequent Urination: Almost every 1-2 hours, 10-12 times a day at worst. Thought it was interstitial cystitis.
- Falling Hair: Just had to stroke my hand through my hair once and a dozen hairs would fall out just like that. Thought it was alopecia and the auto immune disease was attacking my hair.
- Mild Sore Throat and difficulty swallowing
- Chronic Diarrhea:  Loose stools at first but watery later on. Lasted for good 3 weeks.
- Petechiae: red pin ***** spots around limbs
- Body Aches: Especially the joints and changed places every day. Woke up with stiff lower back. Neck creaked all day.
- Insomnia: Would head to bed around 2am after exhausting reading the forums, fall asleep by 3am, and wake up 3 hours later for no reason, and could not fall back asleep again the whole day. Nightmares every night and sometimes I felt paralyzed in bed unable to even lift my head
- Fatigue, Headaches, Depression, Mood Swings, Apathy, Loss of Concentration: (perhaps obvious after lack of sleep so relatively did not think this was a big deal but seemed lethal when combined with everything else)
- Loss of Appetite and Nausea while eating: again maybe obvious due to anxiety
- Weight Loss: around 4-5 lbs, probably from loss of appetite. I forced myself to eat so I didn’t have to confront yet another symptom that seemed like an obvious indicator of hiv, else I would have lost double that weight easily.

My exposures? I had protected sex with a CSW in Bangkok (she handled the condom the entire time) and a major operation soon after in same city - involving needles, stitches, anesthesia, IV drip etc. Yes, on paper, both incidents appeared zero to low risk and many members on this forum also advised me of such. However, you might understand how paranoid I got after getting almost every single symptom in the book and that too in the dreaded ‘window’ period. And accidents can always happen in even the best western hospitals and have happened before. Anyway, this just goes to prove even more that symptoms really can mean nothing at all and there is such a thing as coincidence. If you had a risk, just get tested! Second guessing and internet exploring will only magnify your existing symptoms and lead to several others.

After my exposure, I was hardly worried about HIV. It was only 2-3 days after the symptoms started appearing (mainly the rash and fever) that I started to panic. Immediately, all the other symptoms started to appear but probably because I was looking exclusively for them. I realized even at that time that many of the latter symptoms on my list could be attributed to anxiety. However, I have faced anxiety before in my life like due to education and career, laid off twice before, but never experienced anything remotely similar. Besides, I thought only a slow buildup of anxiety like chronic anxiety could start to produce symptoms like falling hair and frequent urination. If I just started worrying about HIV, could such symptoms appear so quickly within a day or two and simultaneously?

Besides, although frequent urination and hair loss aren’t typical ARS symptoms from what I have read, they still can occur with infected individuals. But so can almost every single symptom possible be linked to the disease. On the other hand, almost all of these symptoms can be linked to other conditions as well. Anxiety is just one of them. Lupus or other auto immune diseases are others. Heck, at one point, I suspected mercury poisoning from the fillings in my teeth, and yes I read that they too can cause all these symptoms.   

After getting my results, many of my symptoms which had persisted for weeks went away almost miraculously and immediately. For the first time in weeks, I slept for 8 hours in a day. My frequent urination went from 10 times a day to just 4 and then 2 the next day. I gained 3 lbs in the last 2 days and been eating ravenously. No more body aches, fatigue, dry mouth, diarrhea. White patches have almost disappeared. Hopefully the hair loss will reverse soon too.

I have no answer as to what caused the rash and fever in the first place. But truly the rest was probably due to stress. I guess in normal anxiety cases, it is never so much a case of life and death, and we have responses to deal with them and take action accordingly. However, it is my theory that when we suddenly observed any ARS symptom, we get the equivalent of a panic attack and this can trigger an immediate outbreak of serious anxiety related symptoms. Worrying all day long can cause hormonal imbalances that can lead to all kinds of weird stuff. As for my ‘leukoplakia’ or ‘candida’, my dentist said that it was caused by my tongue rubbing against my teeth mostly in my sleep. Yes, when we are disturbed, even in our sleep, we tend to move our tongues more and suck saliva more, and also bite our tongues, resulting in ulcers and dry mouth.

Only doctors and tests can truly diagnose your illness if any and differentiate between different conditions. Not the internet nor these forums. The problem with Google is that it mostly displays the most popular results for searches that users have searched for in the past. So for example, a user like me might enter 'white tongue', and bang, I get all the pages that say it is a result of HIV infection. But as my dentist says, there are actually dozens of reasons OHL like symptoms can appear. In normal cases, if there was absolutely no worry of hiv, a person with a white tongue might see it in the mirror and go straight to his dentist. He would not sit around looking for its causes on the internet. So those pages do not appear at the top of our search results since they are nowhere near as popular as hiv-related web pages.

Anyway, I have gone on for too long. I’m going to take a bit of a break from these forums to relax for a bit and take my mind off it but plan to do some reading up so I can be better informed and be of some help to others in the future on sites like these. 

I want to really thank everyone here especially Ann who patiently provided me with so much information and support in the last couple of weeks and sustained me through this ordeal until I could also get tested. You guys are the greatest and were my only help when I had nowhere else to turn to.

I wish everyone here the best. Good luck to everyone and Keep the Faith.

Offline Andy Velez

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Re: HIV, Anxiety or Something Else?
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2007, 12:15:58 PM »
Your taking a rest from the Forum is a very, very good plan.
Hanging around here will only feed your unwarranted fears.

Andy Velez


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