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High Risk Sex - All the symptoms - Tested Negative
Mar 12, 2005

Dear Dr. Bob,

I've been on this board for a year since my high risk encounter, and I want to write this note to thank you and to encourage others like me to just get tested.

This summer I received oral sex and had unprotected insertive anal sex (I topped him) with a guy the first night we met. It was the only time I'd ever had unprotected sex, happened very suddenly, and i immediately regretted it afterward. A week later I became very ill: night sweats, chills, fever, muscle aches, vomitting. I jumped on the internet and just KNEW I had something, even though the man I slept with promised (repreatedly) that he was HIV negative at the time.

Fast forward 6 months: I find out that the guy I had sex with that night had actually been HIV + for TWO YEARS.

He lied to me when I asked him initially because he said his viral load was undetectable. Of course I freaked out. I took the internet with fury, trying to assess my risk even over and over. At the same time, I didn't want to get tested, because deep down I KNEW I'd been infected. At that time I got sicker than I ever have in my life.

For months after that I got on the internet, called CDC over and over, and begged for them to tell me what they could not : did I have HIV? I was too afraid to really find out (and what I realize now is that I'd become addicted to not knowing). I became sick with the flu twice this year, was severely fatigued and depressed and I knew it was because of HIV.

Finally I told a friend about my situation and he convinced me to get tested and also to get counselling, because no matter what my status turned out to be, life would go on. And either way, if I didn't suck it up, get tested and make the most of my life HIV or my self-inflicted anxiety would.

Today I tested Negative on an ELISA test for HIV and all other STDs almost a year after my encounter. I won't say WOOHOO, because while I'm happy I'm not infected, the experience helped me put a lot into perspective as well. On the days I spent obsessing about my life ending I WAS NOT "living", which is such a waste, especially when you're alive.

For all of the worried well, YES, anxiety can give you symptoms. ALL of them. The picture of health before this situation, I even passed a kidney stone. If you had a high or low risk encounter get tested to ease your mind and then get help. The issue digs deeper than HIV, it's in our heads and hearts. There are people living with this disease every day, while you aren't living either way. I'm not pretending to have any wisdom, I understand what you all are going through. Just trust me. Get tested.

Thanks, Dr. Bob. You really got me through this one. No more unsafe sex for me; and no more dying before I'm dead.

--A. Survivor

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hey Survivor,

Thanks for writing in to share your experience. I'm glad that your story has a happy ending. It also underscores many recurrent themes of this forum:

1. Symptoms, no matter what they are, do not equal HIV disease.

2. Testing is the only way to know if you've contracted the virus.

3. Unsafe sex isn't worth the risk and can have disastrous consequences, even if you don't become HIV infected.

As for that scumbag lying about his HIV status, well I guess it may be true that "all men are pigs." But then again, who doesn't like bacon? Right?

Stay safe. Stay well!

Dr. Bob



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