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Possible Hodgkin's?
Dec 8, 2002

Hi Bruce,

I am 17 years old, and I have a story and some questions... I would really really thank you for your help...

(Note: parts of my story may not be related to the subject of this forum, sorry about that).

Well... for the past 6 months I am feeling quite bad. Mostly unexplained fatigue and general malaise. No fever for the whole period though. It all started half year ago when I had unprotected oral sex with a prostitute. Few days afterwards I started having odd symptoms, such as red non-aching fungal-like spots on my tongue, and red-patches in different places on my skin. That really scared me and brought me to get tested for HIV and few other STD diseases. All tests came back negative (that was approx. 4 months after possible exposure).

Recently my condition got worsen. What worries me most right now is that an odd painless swelling probably of a lymph node on the back of my neck underneath my left ear, present for about 2 months, in which it has increased size. Also for some periods I've been suffering from intense itching all over my body.

I am really worried I might have Hodgkin's disease.

I've visited many doctors for the past months concerning my health issues. My family doctor gave me anti-fungal gel for the red-spots on my tongue, also used for treating Thrush. I used it for several days, it didn't help. Since those spots don't bother me in any way, I stopped using it. Also my dentist said it was normal.

About the enlarged lymph node in my neck, my family doctor shortly examined it and said it was nothing. He didn't even take it seriously.

OK... now to my questions:

1) First, how accurate my HIV test is? do I need to get tested again?

2) What exact type of doctor can you recommend me to see regarding my neck swelling? This issue really stresses me out.

3) Are red-spots on the tongue a normal thing, or... possibly oral thrush?!

4) From your experience, are there any other diseases that match my symptoms?

That is it more or less. Sorry if it was too long... your respond would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks a bunch.

Response from Dr. Dezube

I can't help but wonder why you are concerned about Hodgkin's disease. Most folks aren't even familiar with the disease. Do you know someone with it?

I'll just address the Hodgkin's disease, the testing issue, and the prostitute.

You may be having some enlarged lymph nodes. If you are feeling ill AND your lymph nodes are growing, it is reasonable to have one biopsied. If your family physican can not feel it, then it will be difficult to get it biopsies. It often pays to wait one or two months to see what happens to the nodes. If there is anything there, then they may get bigger. On the other hand, if they are just related to a recent upper respiratory tract infection, then over the course of 2 months, they should shrink.

If you have negative HIV testing up to 6 months after a potential exposure, then there's no reason for further testing. Obviously if you have a high risk exposure again, then you should be tested again. Sex with a prostitute is risky as, I imagine, you already know. You might want to try to figure out why this is happening to you. Do you need counseling? When I read your query, I am more concerned with your high risk behavior than I am that you have Hodgkin's disease.


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