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Author Topic: Doctor vs. Other information  (Read 2772 times)

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Offline unconvinced44

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Doctor vs. Other information
« on: November 06, 2008, 12:29:31 PM »
Hi,

I was in an abusive relationship with a man for three months (I'm female) and we have had unprotected anal and vaginal intercourse the whole time. I know, an OBVIOUS high risk. Unfortunately, what *I* wanted (to use protection and not have anal intercourse with ejaculation) was never considered. I was obviously misinformed at the time, thinking that if there was *any* possible contact with fluids, even once, the virus could be transferred. I didn't realize it was more difficult to contract. So I was thinking "Well, if it's happened once, it's not going to make any difference now". So he got his way (forcefully) and I just hoped he wouldn't have anything.

His history: he had been married (I am pretty sure was faithful) up until 3 1/2 years ago and had only been in two long-term relationships since, the last one being a year and a half ago, for about a year. Again, misinformed, I figured SOMETHING of concern would have shown up in that total 2 1/2 years since he was with the last person. So I wasn't actually overly concerned. Since I've started asking him, he told the truth and said he's never used protection and has never been tested. His excuse: because they were long-term relationships. So he's obvioulsy clueless as well.

My history: Have used condoms or have known the other person WELL (and their history) and been tested a number of times.  I don't know why I didn't fight harder (physically) to stand up for myself in this situation, but that's not for this forum.

I have had a couple of symptoms, mostly beginning once I started getting nervous about the possibility of HIV.  I got a cold, which seemed to make sense because I hadn't eaten for over month, with the stress of the relationship and felt "off" for about 5 days, but it never got that serious. Then I had a sore throat (more so the roof of my mouth, in front of my tonsils) for about 3 weeks but it seemed to coincide with my seasonal allergies. Both went away at the same time. But at that time, I started looking on the internet for HIV symptoms, more out of nervous curiosity and realized that a sore throat was one of them. And I remember thinking, "That's the only symptom I've had. At *least* I don't have swollen lymph nodes". But still started feeling scared and stressing. I even palpated the area that night, just to make sure. The DAY immediately following that, I started to feel twinges of pain in my groin and the area seemed to swell. (The sore throat had disappeared a couple of days earlier). Followed the next day by pain and swelling in my neck and armpits. Seemingly "mind-triggered". But it's been 2 months and it's still the same. No other real symptoms though. Unless I want to look for some.  No fever, no rash, no vomitting/diarrhea.

I got routinely tested when I talked to my Dr. about birth control. She told me (with the visiting intern present) that as long as it had been more than 2 weeks, the tests would give accurate results. I gave the blood 5.5 weeks after the first night of exposure (more than one incident). I was convinced it was going to be positive because of the swollen lymph nodes, but my doctor seemed like she wasn't even going to discuss the STD results because they were so OBVIOUSLY negative. I told her my concerns about the swollen lymph nodes (for a week) and she said she wasn't "concerned at all about HIV". And told me the test was 96% reliable after a month (even 92% after two weeks).  She even said that if we wanted to be "anal about it", I could get retested in 3 months. So I was obviously HUGELY relieved, in the moment. But after a day, I couldn't ignore the swollen lymph nodes and the fact that EVERYWHERE else (internet, AIDS committee websites, friends etc.) it said to wait at *least* 3 months to get tested. So I was not convinced of her confidence in the 96% and the neg. result. And I've basically been convinced that I'm positive ever since and trying to come to terms with it. I'm sure I've destroyed my entire bodily functioning from the amount of stress I've been under.

I've learned since (through so many helpful websites like yours) that there *are* actually different antibody/antigen tests that can be done (and reliable) after 3-4 weeks. So I've TRIED to believe in the result, but keep going back to the "symptoms". I've told a couple of friends and family members about it and they actually get angry at me for still worrying, seeing as the result came from a DOCTOR (who basically ONLY dealt with STD's and pregnancy as my University Doctor a number of years ago).   

My question is: Do I believe the DOCTOR and her confident 96%, or do I believe the overwhelming opinion of everyone else, saying to wait at least 3 months (or 14 weeks)? Although, here, I've read that a 5.5 week and 6 week result can be reliable (?)  Had I known more *before* I got the result, I could have asked her what type of test they use in this area (Ontario).

I know the result is going to be what it is regardless, when I get retested. But for the next few weeks, it would be nice to relax a *little* if I know how reliable the 5.5 week result actually was/is.

Thank your for all you do!




Offline jkinatl2

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Re: Doctor vs. Other information
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2008, 01:18:41 PM »
While the vast majority of people test positive after roughly 22 days post-exposure, the current protocol is still a three month window.

For your peace of mind, I would recommend waiting until three months since your last unprotected encounter, then testing. Like your doctor, I suspect your test will be negative.

"Many people, especially in the gay community, turn to oral sex as a safer alternative in the age of AIDS. And with HIV rates rising, people need to remember that oral sex is safer sex. It's a reasonable alternative."

-Kimberly Page-Shafer, PhD, MPH

Welcome Thread

Offline Ann

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Re: Doctor vs. Other information
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2008, 01:25:26 PM »
Un,

You say you tested 5.5 weeks after your FIRST unprotected incident. You need to count your window period from the LAST unprotected incident. While a six week negative is unlikely to change, it MUST be confirmed at the three month point. Only then can you say you are conclusively hiv negative.

Please, in future, don't dispense with the condoms until you've been in a securely monogamous relationship for three months and have then tested TOGETHER for all sexually transmitted infections.

Speaking of which, you also need to have a FULL sexual health screen. The other STIs are MUCH easier to transmit than hiv and they don't always have noticeable symptoms. For example, syphilis chancres are painless. If you have one where you can't see it, you won't know it's there. Syphilis shares a three month window with hiv, so make sure you get a syphilis blood test when you have your three month hiv confirmation. The other STIs can be tested for at around the two week post exposure point.

Good luck. Hopefully you'll come out of this ok. You might want to get some counseling to help you stay out of abusive relationships in future.

Ann
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 unconvinced44

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Re: Doctor vs. Other information
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2008, 11:11:03 AM »
Thank you for the response. Just a couple thoughts...

(1) I now wish I was reading all these posts years ago and knew that I wouldn't necessarily get it after the first exposure. Would have kept fighting harder the second time! He says, "Get on the pill!", I say, "Use condoms!" Guess who won. Verbal arguing isn't enough for some guys.

(2) It's funny how many people consider themselves intelligent and that they're informed about HIV/AIDS. But there's still a LOT I didn't know, apparently. i.e. I still thought one little needle stick or one incidence of contact with blood or semen and that's it! Also, still didn't know that it could take 8 or 9 years for someone to show symptoms. And I'm 30, with a university degree and a minor in BIOLOGY!! Definitely (still) a need for more awareness campaigns!! Honestly, I barely hear anything about HIV/AIDS in Canada. Except for the annual AidsWalk.

Anyway...I did get a full STI workup at the time. Everything was negative, including Syphilis and HEP B and C. I will ask her to retest me for Syphilis when I get retested. I'm going this week, which will be 3 months from first week of exposure. But guess I'll be going back in another 3 months (if it's negative).

Here's hoping everything will be ok, regardless of the outcome. And here I am, worrying about *him* because he's a full-time single dad. Hmmmm.....time to take care of MYSELF!









Offline Ann

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Re: Doctor vs. Other information
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2008, 11:45:09 AM »
Un,

If I were you, I'd not bother getting tested this week unless it's six weeks or more since the LAST time you had unprotected intercourse with him. Remember, you need to count your window period from the LAST incident. If your six week (or more) test is negative, then you can relax because your three month confirmation is unlikely to be any different. And yes, please do confirm your negative syphilis result at the same time as you get your negative hiv confirmation.

Don't beat yourself up over not knowing more earlier. At least you know now - and what's more, you're now in a position to pass your new knowledge on to other people in your life. If we can't get the "powers that be" to get the message out, at least we can do our bit. If you tell two people, and they tell two people etc, we'll reach a lot of people.

Good luck, keep us posted.

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 unconvinced44

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  • Posts: 6
Re: Doctor vs. Other information
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2008, 12:19:21 PM »
Just two questions, one I forgot in the earlier post:

(1) What if I had RUN with the doctor's confidence and said, "ok, I'm negative!" and been thinking about starting a relationship with someone new??  She was that confident with me about 7 years ago when, again it had only been 2 or 3 weeks since the exposure. And I ran with it that time. Not to another unprotected encounter, but with the thought that I was fine! It's not that she *recommended* the 3-month retest to me, but said, "we can do it if *you* want to be 100% sure". Same with Syphilis. She says she's not worried because it basically doesn't even exist anymore ("It's very rare"). Maybe she's just overly optimistic.....She's always seemed very knowledgeable and thorough to me.

That's not really a question for you to answer. Just one I've been thinking about.

(2) Seeing as it's been more than six weeks since the first six weeks of our relationship and the tens of times I've been exposed (and even since the first "symptoms"), wouldn't it at least be a good indication if I get tested now and am still negative? I mean, what if someone is *continuing* in a relationship and decides after a while to get tested because they didn't at the beginning.  How long would you wait to get tested if your partner refuses to? You can't wait until your *last* incident if that's not in the foreseeable future. Does that sound backwards? If I was still in this relationship and wanting to get tested at this point, would you still recommend not getting tested after three-months of intercourse?

I do understand....I wouldn't be 100% confident until 3 months after the *last* incident.

Offline Andy Velez

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Re: Doctor vs. Other information
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2008, 01:12:16 PM »
Keep it simple is my suggestion. Get tested at 13 weeks after the most recent unprotected incident. Then you will have an unequivocally reliable answer.

As Ann offered, you can get tested at 6 weeks after the most recent incident. Assuming you test negative, that is very unlikely to change.

Further, for furture reference, giving up using condoms in a relationship is a big decision to make. It should only happen when both partners are committed to a securely monogamous relationship and both have reliably tested negative at the same time. Until if and when that happens, you can have all the sex you want to. Just do it the safer way which means for intercourse, vaginal or anal, the guy has to always be wearing a condom. Period.

Good luck with your test.

Cheers.
Andy Velez

Offline Ann

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Re: Doctor vs. Other information
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2008, 07:21:19 AM »
un,

Your doctor is dead wrong about syphilis. Syphilis rates have been increasing in North America (and world-wide) for several years now - probably due in part to complacency in the medical profession. Tell her to google "syphilis rates". Read it and weep.

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 unconvinced44

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  • Posts: 6
Re: Doctor vs. Other information
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2008, 06:12:32 PM »
Hmmm. All very interesting, but not in a good way.

Will do, on all accounts!

Thanks again.

Offline unconvinced44

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  • Posts: 6
Re: Doctor vs. Other information
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2008, 08:04:27 PM »
I have to admit...I didn't listen and got the tests done at my last appointment with my doctor, two weeks ago. More because I expect it to be positive than because I want to confirm the first negative result.  I get the results of this test on Wednesday. I've been reading a lot (probably too much), trying to tell myself it'll be ok, but I'm pretty scared.

Good news is, I just got my job back (was laid off) so I've been keeping busy. But it means I can't take any time off to deal with the results if I have to.

Wish *I* could summon all the positive-thinking my friends have been doing for me. I feel like I'm on a short leash, trying to take off and get on with life, and keep getting snapped back every time (by the possibility of having HIV).

I've been thinking I have it for months now, but I don't want to actually hear the result. I've been hanging on to the fact that I feel there's a 2% chance that I might be wrong, but hearing it will make it 0% and very real.

Offline Andy Velez

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Re: Doctor vs. Other information
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2008, 08:54:26 AM »
Good that you got your job back. Stay busy in the meantime.

And good luck with your test result on Wednesday. We'll be expecting to hear from you. Assuming that despite your fears it is negative, that will be an encouraging but not definitive result. Meantime, fingers are crossed for you.

Cheers.
Andy Velez

Offline unconvinced44

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Re: Doctor vs. Other information
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2008, 03:17:04 PM »
It was negative!

I'm COMPLETELY shocked. 

One more time, in February. 

 


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