HIV Prevention and Testing > Am I Infected?

Clinical ARS Question; Opinions Appreciated



Thank you for reading. Understanding that the only way to know if one is HIV+ or not is by testing for it, and having scheduled a test for five days from now, I'm seeking information that I can have in between now and when the results come back.

I've read a lot about HIV. In fact, I worked in the HIV field for four years, which is exactly why I'm concerned about symptoms, now.

I'm a homosexual male with a history of unprotected anal insertive sex with a guy I was seeing for about four months. His last HIV test (12 months prior) was negative. My last HIV test (negative) was a month prior to engaging in sex with him. The sex I engaged in with him was my only risk factor.

Approximately two weeks after my last sexual encounter with him, I presented with symptoms of a viral/bacterial infection: non-exudative sore throat, swollen lymph glands in neck, frequent productive cough, clogged sinus passages, and most notably (and frightening), a slight rash across on my chest and abdomen.

I never presented with a fever during the course of the symptoms, which lasted approximately 7 days. However, the rash has not subsided with the rest of the symptoms. The swollen lymph glands do not worry me much, as for years they've mildly swollen off and on pretty regularly.

I realilze that my symptoms are almost all more suggestive of a common cold moreso than ARS. But its the rash that bothers me. My primary care physician saw it and prescribed Elidel for ezcema, although he stated that he was not sure whether or not it was ezcema. I did not bring up my concern over possible exposure with him.

While no one's ARS rash can be entirely alike, the pictures I've pulled off Google of said rashes are conflicting. Some look somewhat like what I have. Others look entirely different.

I understand stress can cause rashes (including ezcema). I'm a law student, now. I just got over an amazingly stressful court case of which I was a party, and I've recently become very worried about my HIV status do to my possible exposure. It may be stress, it may be ARS, it may be an may be anything. But my question is, given the clinical presentation above, whether my symptoms fall in line with ARS or not.

I don't want to waste anyone's time. But I would like an opinion or two between now and the 2.5 weeks when my result comes in.

Thank you

It really isn't useful to speculate on symptoms.  Why?  Because HIV has no specific symptoms!!!  No one can tell you one way or another whether you have an ARS symptom or not, since they all can mean many things.  The symptoms are also a big variety between people.  The only thing I can tell you is to test out to 3 months post exposure for a definitive test.  Also, don't forget other STDs as they are easier to pass than HIV--it is good practise to get HIV/STD tested every 6 months or a year minimum.  And as for condoms--use them.  You have no business having unprotected sex with someone unless you both are monogamous and both know each other's current status--ie getting tested together; it only takes one time--you don't always get a second chance. 

One thing that can help you while waiting for your result is to limit your internet use--you search obsessively for HIV symptoms, your mind can play tricks on you, you notice certain things about yourself, speculate is it HIV or not?, and become convinced you have it--increasing your anxiety.  Spend time on your favorite hobby, read a non-HIV book, anything.   Do whatever you can to stay busy so that you do not have time to dwell on it.  I hope this all turns out well for you.

Dear Unnerved

I agree with coffee. HIV seroconversion is pretty non-specific, and can feel just like having a bad cold - when I seroconverted I thought I had the flu pretty badly. Many (some studies say most) people who seroconvert don't even become symptomatic, which is why it's so important to test if you're worried.

The symptoms you're describing sound more like a viral infection (that's not HIV) to me. The rash you get in HIV seroconversion varies, but does not look like eczema - it looks like a viral rash. So if your doctor thinks its eczema, then that's another factor in your favour.

As you mention, transient lymphadenopathy is common. If you've gone through a symptomatic seroconversion illness with lymphadenopathy, the kind you get is persistent and generalised (which means two or more sites outside of your axillae/armpits). That's what set alarm bells ringing with me - my LNs came up and stayed up in my groin, neck, armpits - so I went and got tested.

So I think you're on the right track getting tested, but I think you're going to get away with it. Please, please take more care of yourself. I really tried to keep myself safe but managed to get it through sucking cock, and there's nothing I wouldn't give to go back and change it all. Today is the first anniversary of my diagnosis and it's not easy. So stay protected. If you want to bareback you need to find somebody you trust, have protected sex with him for three months minimum, get tested together, have a discussion about the trust you're placing in each other and then go for it.


Andy Velez:
You've already gotten comments about the unreliability of symptoms including yours in knowing about your HIV status.

Hopefully you will come through this episode safely.

But you need to stay awake to the reality that unprotected anal intercourse is at the top of the HIV sexual risk list. It doesn't matter what you think you know about the guy you're with or how great he looks or how much you dig him, a condom is a must everytime for the insertive partner.

The only time you can dispense with using them is when both partners test negatively together and have decided to be in a firmly committed monogamous relationship. And that is not a decision to be made lightly. Otherwise keep those condoms handy and use them.

Good luck with your test and keep us posted.



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