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Terrified of Symptoms
Jan 27, 2003

Doctor, since I most likely will have to start treatment soon after a low risk exposure and no other doctors or websites will answer my question, I sincerely request a reply from you since I'm definitely not a worried well.

After receiving unprotected oral sex from a female(presumably promiscuous)in Mexico for approx. 1 minute and protected vaginal intercourse in early October, I developed what definitely looked like genital herpes lesions on my inner thigh a week later. Two weeks after that I developed all of the symptoms of ARS and then some. Besides the typical flu-like symptoms of malaise, fatigue, chills and body aches (which still occur to this day), I continue to have thrush, a swollen lymph node under my jaw, petechiae, loss of weight in my face, legs, buttocks, and arms, dry skin, pains in my upper right and left rib cage which go to my shoulders, dyspnea and chest pain, numbness in my little toes and fingers, cold hands and feet, pebble-like hard stools, and a severe receding gum line. My eye sockets look black and blue and I occasionally have floaters and blurred vision.

A mono test was negative 4 weeks after my exposure.

I am terrified to go to the doctor since after having all of these symptoms I'm almost positive I have HIV and I'm even more afraid I've developed lymphoma, but I know I need to go soon.

Questions:

1. I assume she had a herpetic lesion in her mouth which caused me to get genital herpes. I know I had no cuts or sores on my penis, but is it possible that the lesion possibly containing HIV could have rubbed over my urethra or microspopic cuts on my penis causing me to get HIV?

2. If I do have HIV, why do I have so many symptoms associated with advanced HIV so soon?

3. With all my symptoms that I still have, persistent singular swollen gland, chills, fatigue, aches and pains, I'm scared I may have lymphoma as well or hepatitis because of my side pains and light colored stools. If ARS symptoms are only supposed to last for 2-4 weeks why am I still so sick if I don't have lymphoma or hepatitis?

Doc, I know you're thinking that I've just read all of these websites, wrote down all of these symptoms and am just another worried well. But I do in fact have all of these and don't know what to do.

I'm just terrified I have HIV, hepatitis, or lymphoma and I don't know how to go on. I'm a 31 year-old heterosexual male with great parents, siblings, and friends. All I wanted to do in life was get married, have kids and live a full life and now I'm afraid I may not be able to do any of this. I already feel as I've lost my life as I no longer have interest in the things I love - women, going out and having a few beers with my friends or any other activities.

Why after such a low risk exposure where the CDC has never reported anybody getting HIV this way do I have all these problems. Why do I have to be the first?

Thanks doc, and please do anything you can to respond, I really need some help.

Response from Dr. Wohl

Although you are convinced you have been infected with HIV, your exposure and symptoms argue otherwise. You are making yourself mad with the anxiety of no knowing for sure if you are HIV + or -.

The symptoms you describe are a indeed a catalogue of signs and symptoms persons with advanced HIV infection can get (although even in the worse cases, to get all of these is a bit unusual). To experience thrush, lipodystrophy, peripheral neuropathy, gingivitis, and CMV retinitis all within a few weeks to months after an exposure verges on impossibility.

You need to see a doctor and get tested for HIV. It will be a tremendous relief to learn you are not infected. When you find out you do not have HIV, then your trusty physician can assess whether something else (which may be curable) is at work.

Sticking your head in the sand will not help and only serves to keep you in the dark and miserable. Get your wonderful family and friends to support you and accompany you to the doctor's. You will be glad you did. DW



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