HIV Prevention and Testing > Am I Infected?

Trembling with fear/Anal Exp

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First of all, hello to everyone bothering to read this!

I am so scared that I am HIV+ (like everyone here I guess). I have been really stupid in the past. I have tried to summarise my exposure and axieties below...

Exposure - Unprotected receptive anal with casual partners of unknown status. Mostly I was careful and insisted on condoms but a number of times I foolishly didn't - thinking back over the last 5yrs I would say probably a dozen times without a rubber, most (ten) were just 'dipping' only lasting seconds and without ejaculation (usually when in a darkroom/sauna and getting carried away and THEN stopping), and two specific times when the sex went on for a number of minutes however I cannot say whether there was ejaculation. Both times I asked my partner not to cum but as I always used a tonne of lube its hard to say if they did or not.

I am bisexual however have backed away from the places I previously frequented during the last two years (saunas, cruising grounds), mainly because I started to become uncomfortable with the amount of unsafe sex I was seeing around me, and to be honest I knew that I couldn't trust myself in those environments. Also I am in a loving relationship with a girl (always protected sex) and really wanted to finally 'settle down' (I'm ealy 30s). In terms of HIV worry, I knew about safe sex, but I remained ignorant of many aspects which I have since read up on - I still said to myself that as I didn't feel sick I didn't need to get tested. I was also ignorant about medical advances over the last ten years. Also, being completely 'non-scene' I never knew people who contracted the virus, nor was I subjected to some of the various campaigns for things like Syph, Hep, PEP and so on.

Fast forward to my current situation. An ex lover (female - possible exposure during the above timeline) is required to take an HIV test for an insurance application and we are awaiting the results. This caused me to read up on HIV, symptoms, transmission risks and so on. In fact, I have worked myself up into a fury doing this and cannot stop reading more and more. When I'm not reading about it I'm thinking about it and analysing my stupid high risks and when I'm not thinking about it I'm asleep. I know I am suffering from stress (dry mouth, diarrearh, lack of appetite, weight loss etc) but I can't stop - I just feel so fatalistic about everything, like I've suddenly had the wake up call too late and am bound to hit the worst-case (ie. she is pos, i am pos, my life falls apart). All the while trying to look relatively 'normal' to my girlfriend, which just adds to the stress.

Thinking back to symptoms is hard. I've certainly felt pretty well the last two years. After one of the UAI times, I remember about a month later feeling like I was going down with a bad cold - swollen glands in armpits, phlemmy throat and so on. I took some multivits the next day and felt okay again so I don't know if this would have been ARS or not. I also don't recall my female ex-lover being sick during that particular period, although she did have swollen glands at one point which was put down to a hormonal problem. One thing I have noticed over the past year or so has been a worsening of my skin - a couple of warts, some skin-tags, a few pimples, a spate of boils under my arms which left pink/blue scars (which now I'm seriously worrying could be KS) and general aging (which may, I guess be down to my stressful job also)

I'm not even sure what I'm asking. I know I am at a ridiculously high-risk of contracting HIV and have convinced myself I am positive in advance. I know that I must get tested, and I will (although waiting for the other test results first, I can't cope with more than one test at one time!). I am wracked with guilt for my past indiscretions and have analysed my behaviour and genuinely want to change it. Whilst the unsafe cruising ground sex was fun at the time, it just wasn't worth the ongoing anxiety and I want - no I yearn, for a monogamous relationship from now on. I would give anything to be able to just grow old.

I am so scared of losing everything I love. My relationship, house, job (reading about the side-effects of the meds makes me wonder how anyone could carry out a full time job, let alone a stressful management position). I'm also scared of the stigma which I know affects everyone but I live in a rural town and am imersed in the 'hetero' rather than 'gay' scene, which naturally doesn't have anywhere near the amount of support networks for this horrible, horrible disease.

I guess if I had one question it would be that I have no idea how typical or not my behaviour is in the gay population and if people who took equal (or more) risks have somehow remained negative? I feel like I was an irresponsible slut to be honest!

Sorry if I have rambled on, and sorry if much of it doesn't make much sense. I will probably think of other questions or details which I will amend accordingly when they come up.

(based in rural lancashire, UK)

If you are waiting on us to tell you to test then, yes you need to test. Symptoms or lack of is no way to diagnosis HIV. You had several risks so you need to test. Get your test and let us know your results.

Hi Rod

No, I'm not waiting to be told that. Like I said, being tested is a given.

My problem is the anxiety involved. Right now I have convinced myself that I am almost-certainly positive, which may or may not be irrational however I have so much to lose that I'm going to pieces.

The vast majority of posts seem to be from hetrosexual exposures which is fine, but doesn't reflect my exact situation and i'm starting to believe that the reason I am not seeing similar histories published are because the people involved also are resigned to being positive and indeed test as such. That doesn't exactly help my state of mind though!

If it helps you, most of the people here are gay. There are a few heteros but the majority are gay. I'm gay. Been positive since 1984. Did I loose my home. NO Did I loose my job. No. Don't be putting the cart before the horse. As you see I'm still here 23 years after being diagnosed.

Appreciate that, although the posters in this particular forum seem to generally come from a position of hetrosexual exposures, hence me figuring that i must be unusually slutty and therefore at *huge* risk!

I know I am 'putting the cart before the horse' however its the sheer volume of the things at stake which keep running through my head. I'm as rational as they come in other areas of life, but if I try to invoke logic and tell myself that its pointless worrying now and how stress will make more 'symptoms' appear, it lasts for a few seconds until I start thinking again...

Your diagnosis 23 years ago does indeed give some hope that if infected, its not the end of everything (and presumably medical advances over the next decade or so will come along which will potentially extend life expectancy further) however, with all respect, I would give anything right now not to be in that position :(

Thanks again Rod for your prompt answers - I know I'm making little sense!


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