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Oral thrush = HIV true or false?

Mar 25, 2004

Dear Dr Bob

Does oral thrush mean I have HIV? - sounds silly doesn't it...but I'm a healthy, fit and active 30 year old male, but after a single episode of drunken vaginal sex with a sex worker on a stag party in Spain (with a condom) I am sure something is first started after a few weeks with night sweats, followed by a cough and then, heart burn and general lethargy, then BANG I had a look at a few medical web sites and that's it I have full blown HIV with all the symptoms!!! - but after viewing your site, it did put my mind at rest for a few months and symptoms seemed to subside - but I have 2 problems...1. I still seem to have a whitish/cream coating at the back of my tongue which can be removed by brushing, but after a day or two its back again? I have read that oral thrush is the first sign of HIV infection, is that true? and secondly it says that normally healthy people do not get oral thrush? is that true, and lastly do I have oral thrush! as it's not sore or visible anywhere else in my mouth....sorry to be a pain, but I'm married and racked with guilt over the whole episode, I did go to the GUM clinic a month after it happened and asked to be tested for everything which was all clear, but they said it was to early to be tested for HIV, problem No that I have read about the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS I am petrified to get tested for HIV, I have not had sex with my wife since the episode (which happened last summer, I have blamed it on pressure at work/stress/parenthood, but this is causing major problems now as I love my wife with all my heart and desperately want to make love to her and tell her everything is ok), if I ever find the courage to get tested and it's positive I will drive my car into the nearest river and leave a wife and two children.....your help and advise is desperately needed, thank you in advance.

Response from Dr. Frascino


Does oral thrush mean you have HIV? True or false? That's an easy one false! The vast majority of oral thrush cases have nothing to do with HIV. If your stag party señorita sex-capade was protected by a properly used latex condom that did not fail, your HIV risk is essentially nonexistent.

I see two major problems here:

1. The "BANG." Looking at a few medical websites and deciding you have full-blown AIDS is like me watching the Lord of the Rings movies and then deciding Middle Earth and Hobbits really do exist.

2. Being racked with guilt over the whole episode.

So what to do

1. If you feel you've placed yourself at risk for HIV, then get tested. If you're too petrified to get tested, get counseling to help you cope with your fears, and then get tested. Your HIV risk is nearly nonexistent from what you've told me.

2. Level with your wife. It won't be easy, but it is the best way to relieve your guilt. If you're too petrified to level with your wife, get counseling to help you cope with your guilt. Then, level with your wife. We are all human. We all make mistakes. Relationships that deal with challenges openly and honestly are strengthened. Those that do not are often doomed to eventually fail.

3. See your doctor if the goop on your tongue persists. I can't diagnose that over that over the internet. Most likely, it's completely normal!

4. Driving your car into the nearest river should never be an option. If I had done that 13 years ago when I found out I was positive, I wouldn't be here today to answer your question. If you really have considered harming yourself, see a counselor as soon as possible.

5. No sex with your wife since last summer? Gosh, no wonder you're stressed. If you follow the advice above, this problem will soon be resolved as well.

OK, enough procrastination and needless unwarranted worry. Now you know what to do. Get moving! We'll all be waiting for you to write back with your WOO-HOO good-news story.

Dr. Bob

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