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Military, Married and Male encounter?
Dec 21, 2000

Ryan, Thanks for your time. I'm in the military, married and about two months ago went to party and had a male to male encounter. It was unprotected, the other male said he was tested HIV negative, but about 3 weeks later I had a few symptoms that may be signs of HIV. I'm worried and have been avoiding sex with my wife thinking I maybe infected. I know I need to wait 3-6 months to have a normal HIV test done but the stress and all is taking over my life. I need to find out pos or neg now. I can not go to my military doctors. Is there a test that I can have done now to find out, and where can I go to get this done? Very stressed and concerned. Thanks again Ryan for your dedication, it is very uplifting to know there are people like you out there.

Response from Mr. Kull

This sounds like a difficult situation, especially considering the discriminatory policies of the U.S. military.

"Unprotected" does not provide enough detail about what happened. If you had oral sex without condoms, then you are at low-risk for infection. If you had unprotected anal sex, you would be at higher risk (that is, of course, if your partner had been infected). A doctor would take those factors into consideration when deciding how to diagnose your HIV status.

Outside of the antibody test, some doctors will request a PCR test at their discretion. Simply put, this is a testing method that detects the presence of virus instead of antibodies. That means you could diagnose HIV infection much closer to infection. You would probably have to go to a private practitioner to have this procedure done. Unprotected anal sex with a man who has sex with men is often grounds to use PCR testing. It may be difficult to get a PCR because it is costly, not standard procedure for HIV status diagnosis (it should be used in conjunction with antibody testing since PCR testing has higher rates of false positives), and is generally reserved for monitoring viral levels in people who are already diagnosed as infected.

It would be great if the ability to diagnose HIV infection were available to all. Given the limitations of healthcare in the United States, it is not always possible.

This is always a difficult situation to navigate with a spouse. Ultimately, you need to put your own and her health above your need to protect the relationship. While there is a good chance that you haven't been infected, the psychological and emotional ramifications of ignoring the reality of your situation could be devastating.

There's a way to work this out. It may not be obvious to you now, but try to find someone you could talk with who could help you solve some of the confusion you are experiencing.

RMK



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