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Infected 2 weeks ago: PLEASE HELP
Feb 9, 2003

I am an American living in Asia. 2 weeks ago I had unprotected sex with a girl, who I have since found out was high risk (the next morning I discovered that the abrasion from sex had led to a small lesion in the skin on my penis). 14 days later (3 days ago) I began experiencing symptoms similar to ARS: rapidly swelling lymph gland on left side of groin, stomach pains, general soreness in wrists, elbows, shoulder, lower back, worst all around waist (especially when I sit for long periods or go to bed), knees and soles of feet, dehydration, pain in my head, and diaherra. My questions are:

(1) Does this seem like ARS? Any other possibilities?

(2) Does the test sold by, with claims that it can detect HIV in 28 days seem legitimate?

(3) If I test positive this week, does it make sense for me to return to the US for a few days to start drug treatments (I am pretty disciplined and could maintain a regime)?

(4) If so, what drug regime would you recommend?

(5) Where could I find information on the best locations (hospitals, clinics, or universities) to find the best treatment?

Thank you in advance for any advice!! The more honest, the more appreciated. By the way, this is a great site!!

Response from Dr. Wohl

Ideally, if you believe you may have contracted HIV, you should be tested with an HIV RNA PCR (viral load) test. Antibody tests, even home testing versions, are designed to detect antibodies to HIV that your body makes. It takes a few weeks for these antibodies to be detectable. Once a person develops antibodies the utility of early HIV treatment becomes murky. Initiation of HIV therapy for acute HIV is most desirable before seroconversion (antibody detection) occurs.

Your symptoms are rather non-specific so it is hard to say they are or are not consistent with ARS. They can also be signs of another STD. If possible, I would seek medical attention from a trusted and knowing clinician where you are now. STD testing and even an HIV antibody test now would be the minimal I would recommend. If an HIV viral load can reliably be performed, I would do it.

Remember, ARS usually passes rather than linger. If you are getting better, this does not mean you are out of the woods.

If you can not get the help you need where you are, I would travel to where you can. The US emmbassy/consulate might be able to help.

(WARNING sermon approaching) Now, of course, no matter what happens with your tests, you must realize the need to always use a condom when having sex with someone who is or could be infected with HIV or another STD.

Let us know how things go or if you hit a brick wall and need more help. DW

Possibly starting therapy this year with very low baseline VL
I need your help

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