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Symptoms persist despite 11 week neg. test, scared

Jul 30, 2003

Currently, I have diarehia off and on and also a pain, pressure type feeling, sometimes short of breath in my lower throat, upper respiratory area of chest. I have had this feeling for over a month. Previously in May I had headaches for a couple weeks, nausea, and diarehia.

I had insertive unprojected intercourse with a woman I met while on vacation on April 1st, 2003. I was tested for HIV on June 16th (neg.), it was shy of the 12 week period so now I am scared I have HIV since my symptoms persist. What do you think Doc.? Is it possible I have HIV. I am retesting next week. I am praying for a neg. test.

Response from Mr. Kull

It is unlikely that your symptoms are related to HIV if your test was negative 11 weeks after your exposure. However, I do recommend that you get tested again, not because your risk or symptoms suggest that you are likely to be infected, but in order to reduce your doubts about being infected. If you continue to feel anxious about HIV infection after negative tests, you need to address your anxiety and not your HIV status.

I always find it interesting when people decide to get tested just days short of the window period. That probably doesn't have a major impact on the test's accuracy (most sources state that a person is likely to have a reactive test within the first month of infection), but it is likely to make someone doubt the results. I encourage people in situations like this to look at patterns of behavior that set themselves up for anxiety, and take steps to avoid reenacting those scenarios in the future (for example, wait the extra week, even though that is hard to do).


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