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HIV Related or All In My Head?
Dec 30, 2009

I've been infected for 7+ years and I'm in my early 30's. I'm not on meds yet, because my numbers have been good. I often worry about every little thing. I'm sure most of my issues are just stress related, but I do wonder whether it is HIV.

There are days I feel great and other days I feel blah. I often feel those blah days are just stress related. I do have a few issues I wonder about:

I have what seems to be hemmoroids, but my doc didn't see any. The pain is actually around the anus. Everyday in the shower I can smell a blood smell when I wash back there. They are very painful and itchy and come and go. I've read so much about anal dyplasia and cancer and how the symptoms can be the same as hemmoroids.

I also notice my throat is often pretty red, but I don't have a sore throat. I also find myself constantly looking for that thrush thing. Sometimes, I get a white looking coating on my tongue. It doesn't look like any of the pix I've seen of thrush. I know many people get white coating on tongue who are negative. I also see these large taste buds at the back of tongue. I'm sure I'm noticing things that were always there and I'm just focusing on them now. My dentist just told me I had very soft gums and said that is something usually seen in long-term HIV infection.

Last week, I went to the tanning bad for the first time in months. I got really dry skin after that and got this very small rash or sores on my shin. I suppose this could be from scratching due to itching, but it had never happened before.

As you can tell, I worry about a lot of things. I also got an in-grown toe nail and it must be a little infected because my toe is red and hurts. I worry any infection like that could cause major issues.

Okay, I'm sure most of this is normal and I'm worrying about nothing. My doc is suppose to be sending me to check out the butt issue. I wonder whether throat being red, soft gums, and shin rash are signs of a weaker immune system than the numbers are telling?

What things would you look out for that may tell more is happening than the numbers would suggest?

Thanks for your help. I'm probably just becoming an hypochondriac--I know it sounds like it.

Response from Dr. McGowan

What you are going through is not at all unusual. Many people start to worry about little things that, most likely have no significance.

It is true that HIV can cause gum disease and it is very importnat to maintain good oral hygiene. See the dentist often, get cleanings and floss regularly.

There are also several per-anal issues that can be related to HIV. Most likely what you have are indeed hemmorrhoids but it would be important to have an Anal Pap smear done to look for infection with HPV (human papilloma virus), which is very common and can cause anal cancer if left untreated for over the course of years. Other infections such as LGV (lymphogranuloma venereum) or gonorrhea or herpes simplex or syphilis can be spread sexually as well.

Have you considered starting treatment for your virus? Perhaps if it were suppressed and undetectable it would relieve some of your anxiety. It seems as if you are waiting for something bad to happen, why don't you take the upper hand and get the virus under control?

Joe



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