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Scared out of my mind Reactive Arthritis

Dec 26, 2011

Hi, I am a 27 year old male and I had protected sexual contact during a one night stand before going on vacation to the Caribbean. I used a latex condom and used it from beginning (oral) to end (vaginal) sex and even filled it with water to see if there was any possible damage and it seemed intact . The sex occurred on a Tuesday night and the young lady and I had intercourse again on Thursday morning before I left for vacation on Thursday. During our second encounter the condom caused friction on my penis head due to its tightness and caused some of the skin to rub off. After we were finished, I did my same condom test by filling it with water and still appeared to have no breakage or leakage.

The following Wednesday after returning, I woke up with swollen knees and nothing more. Soon after that I began to have urinary symptoms. I went to my doctor the following Monday to test for STDs via a urine sample and blood test because he believed I have reactive arthritis. He gave me antibiotics to help with what he thought was a urinary tract infection and medication to bring down the swelling on and around the knees. When I returned on Thursday for my results, all were negative. My doctor told me that I may have reactive arthritis and now I'm terribly scared reading info on the possible link between HIV and Reactive Arthritis. I know it takes 3 months for STDs such as HIV to show up and I am extremely scared. I don't know if it is my anxiety but I'm worrying all the time and eating less frequently and my knees are still a little sore. I forgot to notify my doctor that I went away on vacation because I was so concerned with STDs and I am wondering if it was something to do with what I ate. I have never experienced anything like this and I am petrified.

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Thanks for writing. You have taken good precautions and appear not to have had a risky sexual encounter. Reactive arthritis does occur in some HIV+ persons, but it can also result from foodborne infection (such as Campylobacter or Salmonella). I think it's important for your doctor to know you were traveling - it sounds like that could be the cause of your symptoms.

Be cautious about reading too much on the internet (I know, I've mentioned the irony before). There is excellent information available (along with a lot of misinformation) and it's easy to make false conclusions that send your anxiety through the roof. Choose your sites carefully, don't jump to conclusions, and be certain to mention everything to your physician.

Take care,


I am depressed
Worried about tuberculosis

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