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I'm driving myself insane! Please Help!
Oct 31, 2002

Hi there Ryan,

First of all, thank you for such an informative resource, you are doing an excellent job. Now to my question:

8 months ago I had unprotected vaginal sex twice with the same female. Her HIV status is unknown, although she tells me I have nothing to worry about.

Approximately 9 weeks after my possible exposure, I went to my college health clinic and got screened for all STD's, including HIV. Everything came back negative.

The doctor at the clinic told me that the 9 weeks was long enough and that I should consider the test to be a true negative. However, looking back I remember developing a small pinkish blotch on my upper arm right above the elbow about 6 weeks after my possible exposure, which lasted for about 3 weeks. I am now really quite scared that pink spot was HIV-related and I'm truly afraid to go in and test again. Would I be experiencing ARV symptoms 6 weeks after exposure? I've also read that the ARV rash is usually on the upper torso, is that true? I'm driving myself crazy about this, and I know that this is unhealthy. I can't stop second-guessing the doctor and thinking about that spot on my arm. Am I being ridiculous?

Thank you so much Ryan.

Response from Mr. Kull

It is unlikely that you are HIV infected, but according to the CDC, antibody testing is not considered to be accurate until three months (approximately 12 weeks) have elapsed since exposure. Most people will develop a detectable level of antibodies within the first month of infection, but testing within the window period is not definitive.

Try your best to avoid determining your status based on symptoms that you are experiencing. That is a surefire way to make things much more difficult for yourself.

RMK



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