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Pains and anxiety after my partner was diagnosed
Aug 13, 2011

Hey good doctor,

I must compliment you on the work that you do. You are my last resort because I have no one to talk to. I would be ridiculed because, where I am from, homosexuality is looked down upon and I can be killed for such a lifestyle.

I had unprotected sex with my boyfriend two months ago (I was the top). I did not ejaculated in him. We had sex twice that night but I was not bruised or anything, nor he was. He said he was HIV negative and I had seen his results. I am negative as well. Two weeks later he was not feeling well and his doctor did another HIV test on him and found he was positive. Since then, I have had an HIV test every week and it has come back negative. I did the rapid test and also the ELISA test.

I have been experiencing sharp pains in different parts of my body: muscle pains under my arms, under my chin, under my feet and inside the palms of my hands. The pain comes and goes. My lymph nodes don't hurt but the pain move throughout my body. I am not on meds and I am a healthy person. My diet is normal but I am very stressed. Do you think my chances of being infected are high risk despite all HIV tests thus far (8 weeks later) coming back negative. Please answer me sir because doing HIV tests in my country is very expensive.

Thanks in advance.

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Thank you for writing. The insertive partner, even if he does not ejaculate, does have a risk of transmission, although it is lower than for the receptive partner. A high viral load (not knowing one is positive and not on meds) can increase that risk. Because the window for seroconversion is up to six months, you need to continue testing until that point. I know you are anxious about your status, but weekly testing is unnecessary. Typically tests are conducted at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months after exposure.

The symptoms you describe can be confusing because they could result from a physical problem as well as anxiety (in such a case as yours where there has been an exposure). You are doing the right thing by being tested at 3 and 6 months. You need to have protected sex with your partner (even as the top) and work on releasing that anxiety by discussing it with people whom you trust. I understand how difficult it must be to handle these concerns where stigma and actual physical danger are so great. I commend you and wish you and your boyfriend well.

-David



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