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Different Opinions On When Infected
Apr 25, 2010

I was diagnosed in 2008 after getting strep-pneumonia. Looking back on my sexual history, I realized the infection had to happen 7 years prior. Besides the high risk exposure at that time, I remember getting what I thought was a very bad case of mono. My lymph nodes were sore and swollen all over and I was so tired. This lasted for months. The lymph nodes lasted a couple years. My numbers have remained pretty good with a CD4 consistantly around 800 and a low vl.

I've had a few people, including my doctor, think I must have been infected much recently with my numbers. I'm not sure why they think this. We know some people are able to keep HIV in check for many years. I remind them that strep-pneumonia is something that usually happens several years into infection for a young person. I've had a few tell me maybe the pneumonia was part of sero-conversion illness. Have you ever heard pneumonia being part of ARS? I know it is basically impossible to determine when someone was infected. If it was a recent infection, then I would have to be one of those people who got it from getting semen on the skin--which is very unlikely unless someone has an open wound.

They've got me second guessing myself, body, and sexual history. They say I probably just had mono back in 2001 as it would be unlikely I've kept these numbers without meds for 9 years. I have never heard pneumonia can be part of ARS--especially pneumonia that lands ya in the hosptial for a week. By the way, my doc never said pneumonia was part of ARS. That came from friends.

Thank you for all your help.

Response from Dr. McGowan

Thanks for your question.

It certainly is possible that you had been infected for several years. As you noted, the avaerage time from infection to illness is about 10 years, so half of people do not get sick for more than 10 years. Your low viral load is also in keeping with a slower progression rate. It is important to know since if you had been infected for several years there may be additional partners you would want to inform so that they could get themselves tested. This is the only way we are going to get ahead of this epidemic. I agree strep pneumo pneumonia would not be part of an acute retroviral syndrome but did serve as the stimulus to offer you HIV testing.

Best to you,

Joe



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