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herpes and hiv test
Dec 12, 2000

I have genital herpes and have over the years from time to time had a rash on my left wrist that I had always wondered whether it might be a herpes outbreak. My HIV status has always been negative and I had been celibate for 4 years. Recently, however, I had unprotected oral sex (on July 15th) with someone whose HIV status was not known to me. About 1 month later I noticed a rash on my arm and neck. The rash did not go away for over a month and I began to notice that it seemed to be spreading. It also reminded me of the rash I had seen on my wrist. I called my partner and asked him about his HIV status and he told me that he had recently had a full physical and his HIV test was negative. I still went on October 3rd (less than 3 moths)for a rapid HIV test which came back negative. Still worried, and still with the rash, I went again for a standard ELISA test on Nov 24th (19 weeks) and it came back negative. I know that the USUAL period of time that an infected person will show positive on the test is 3 months. I also know that for the most accurate test, a person must wait 6 months. I have not seen a doctor yet about this rash, I'm having a hard time dealing with the whole thing. I am really filled with anxiety as I await January 15th. I read this excerpt from Rick Sowadsky's page and I was wondering if it would apply to my situation: 'Also, if a person tests negative at the time that they are showing chronic, ongoing symptoms, that indicates that their symptoms are not AIDS related. A person first shows positive on the test (by 6 months after infection), and then later shows chronic symptoms (an average of 10 years after infection). So if a person tests negative at the time that they're showing ongoing symptoms, that indicates that the symptoms are not AIDS related.' Please help me. I'm so scarred.

Response from Mr. Kull

It is really important that you go to a doctor to have some of your questions answered. Rashes can be caused by so many different immune responses that it is impossible to tell if you are responding to an HIV infection. It seems that people usually have other symptoms that accompany a rash during the primary infection stage. It is possible that someone will have a negative or inconclusive test during symptoms related to an acute retroviral syndrome. Based on the information you present, it seems really unlikely that you are HIV infected.

You're only ruling out HIV which should have a low priority in the scheme of things. Go ahead and get tested at six months if you want, but talk to a doctor in the meantime to see what your rash might be related to and how you could treat it in the future.

RMK



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