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Author Topic: My Story - so far  (Read 1570 times)

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Offline JoeyD

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My Story - so far
« on: February 21, 2014, 08:00:18 AM »
Story so far

Hi there,
Wanted to chat about my journey so far. Don't know whether it's destined to end here or continue on the other forum. Either way it's been a great resource.
It's obviously stressful when the notion dawns on someone that "uh oh, maybe..." it could be HIV. Then with the wonder of the internet it can spiral out of control.
Google for HIV rashes and you see everything under the sun. Follow the links though and you find they're actually describing other conditions.
Talk of itchy this or swollen that are, odds on, a thousand other things and indeed seem to not even be one of the possible symptoms (if any), anyway, judging by the experiences of the veteran mods here.

Lastly of course there's the legitimately panicked, but misunderstanding, threads from very low exposure risk or even non existent risk scenarios that can add to the cacophony of what ifs, worry and stress.

I don't think one thread would, or could, ever help with that, but maybe this can help someone like me in the future who wants a bit more plain retelling and journey through the process to the fork in the road; positive or negative.

Met someone, went home to theirs and had sex shortly after New Years 2014. It was fun, and we were safe at first. Had some rests, changed around, did various things, oral, anal. Each time came I was the receptive one. There were moments, after taking a break, when things would start in earnest again, and there'd be no condom at resumption but then we'd stop to put one on. That happened a couple of times. No unsafe 'grand finale', just precum exposure.

Later, 3 weeks to the day, went on travels to see friends in America. A few days after arriving developed a slightly sore throat on the right side and enlarged lymph node there too. It was only mildly uncomfortable whilst eating and subsided after 6 days. Unusual though for not going away quicker; normally only a day or two at most I have sore throats. Got(had?) a good immune system :)
The lymph node has been around since, going on 4 weeks. Causes discomfort sleeping in certain positions. Can't remember anything else of note. I was jet lagged and we would sometimes drink so the normal amount of suboptimal energy and health over the 2 weeks was to be expected :p

Indeed the whole act of travelling is likely to cause these sorts of issues. That helps anchor me down in moments where I'd otherwise be swept away in the paranoia of an internet search.  Knowledge is power. And certainly a power source for worry.

That's not to say I didn't. I initially thought it would be something like gonnorhea. Surprised that putting in "lymph, neck and STD" brought up HIV... VERY surprised and of course worried.
Kept it to the back of my mind over the trip. Didn't notice any other things. No rashes etc, just the throat and node.
Got back Feb 6th. Thought about things some more. Interested to read this forum and information therein when I found it. Stressful, but tempered with the odds and reality of Every Situation Being Different. Plus the travel adding a realistic source for anything.

Feb 10th, a Monday, go in for a rapid syphilis and HIV test. The test kits for HIV were almost used up. There was only a little of the liquid left for a test. The guy tried it anyway: Indeed whereas at first he said I could do it another day, when I mentioned the lymph nodes he decided it was worth a shot. Got some frothy last drops onto the rest strip and had the normal 20 min chat about safe sex, how would you deal with a positive result, etc.
It came back negative. If there hadn't been enough reagent I guess it would have come up as a failed test so that little bit must have been enough for it be be a valid result. That was 5 and a half weeks after exposure.

The end of that same week I went to the GUM clinic in the city. Swab of back of throat, blood taken, pee and swab of the bum too. That was on, of all days, Valentine's Day, haha.
This was a full assay at 6 weeks, exactly, post exposure.

The policy is to only contact patients again if there were a positive result. It's now been 1 week and no call yet.

It's been reassuring, with caveats of course, that generally a negative blood test 6 weeks afterwards is a persuasive, if not entirely watertight, sign of good things. By now the bloods should be back according to the nurse so by Tuesday or so next week if there's still no call I'll be even more more confident.

In the meantime I'm going to my local GP next week about the lymph node. Obviously without any word back from the GUM clinic it'll have to be assumed to be something else. Odds are anyway.

It'll be good to have a rapid test once more at the 3 month period to be absolutely sure. It's that frustrating clash of reason and emotions. It's been said time and again here that the 6 week negative blood test is a very good sign but still, until one crosses that 3 month mark and gets a final test, will the doubt, and associated panic, always be there.

Today I noticed a dull red rash on the top of my shoulder that's new. It's very easy to reach for the phone and google image search again and again for rashes.
It's now 7 weeks. Maybe? Possibly?
Questions like that won't stop for many of us, myself included.
Are there any other rashes? Maybe. Some redness here, some spots there. Much of a muchness really. But suddenly normal becomes abnormal. Even with all the reason in the world.
It's certainly stressful , even if it doesn't make itself known externally or even in the majority of thoughts over the course of the day, it lingers. Like the lump node in my neck. No pain just pressure always reminding you when you'd nearly forgot.

The forum and especially the forums for people who test newly positive, look to be a wonderful supportive resource. Fingers crossed in my case I won't need them but for anyone who does it is a great thing to have and help normalise and cope with it. :)

So 7 weeks. Still waiting on bloods, new rash on shoulder, not itchy or pimply, jet lagged twice in the last month, and the lingering lymph node.

A case study so to speak for the next Joey who comes looking and worrying. Will update either way.
Hope it helps, I know it certainly has helped me sharing :)


Offline Jeff G

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Re: My Story - so far
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2014, 08:11:39 AM »
I don't see that you actually have asked a question but you are right to test as you did have a risk . Just be sure to confirm the results at 3 months .

The average time to seroconversion is 22 days. Most who are infected will test positive by 6 weeks. For various reasons a small number will take longer and that is why we follow the CDC recommendation to test at 3 months for a conclusive negative result.

Here's what you need to know in order to avoid hiv infection:

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 without 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. Some of the other STIs can be present with no obvious symptoms, so the only way to know for sure is to test.

Use condoms for anal or vaginal intercourse, correctly and consistently, and you will avoid hiv infection. It really is that simple!
HIV 101 - Basics
HIV 101
You can read more about Transmission and Risks here:
HIV Transmission and Risks
You can read more about Testing here:
HIV Testing
You can read more about Treatment-as-Prevention (TasP) here:
You can read more about HIV prevention here:
HIV prevention
You can read more about PEP and PrEP here
PEP and PrEP

Offline JoeyD

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Re: My Story - so far
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2014, 04:13:57 PM »

The 2 week period to hear back came and went with no mesagea from the clinic, which means everything is fine.

Will have a quick test at the 3 month mark as a formality but looks like everything's fine.
Goes to show really.  All the worry and the odd symptom here or there and it turned out alright. Not that I'll be lax next time.
Thanks for the advice


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