HIV, with a side of potato salad?
Sep 30, 2005
Dear Dr. Bob
First, of course, thanks for all you do. I just discovered your forum and find you to be delightful.
I am a 41-year-old divorced bisexual guy. Although I've had your typical "got carried away during 'safer' sex" experiences within the last few months, the incident I'm concerned about occurred on towards the first part of August. I was making potato salad for my kids when the knife decided that my thumb was a part of the pickle. I didn't need stitches, but it wasn't pretty. (Plus I had to throw my pickles away, wash everything, and start over.)
Anyhow, a couple of nights later I was playing with a guy in an adult bookstore who produced quite a bit of precum. I just forgot all about my cut, which was unbandaged and had started to heal nicely with no sign of infection. But on the way home, I noticed that the cut had broken open again and, while it hadn't actively bled, it was looking pretty red and moist inside. I don't know that I got precum in the cut, but there's a fairly good chance I did (I'll spare you the details).
Early September rolls around, and one day I woke with sore muscles in my back. The next day, the soreness was gone but I developed a low-grade fever and chills and a sore throat with exudate. This sore throat was quite severe for several days (with a brief associated mild lymphodenopathy under my jaw only), then calmed but persisted as "background noise" for nearly three weeks. The actual fever only lasted three days or so, but the "feverish" feeling persisted for about as long as the sore throat.
This isn't the first time I've gotted sick and thought "AAAAH!! HIV!!!" But this time I've got these damn persistent night sweats. I keep my house around 55-60 degrees at night and sleep under a light comforter. I often wake up cold (and now wet). It's very upsetting, and I've started obsessing and having panic attacks.
My questions: How much of a risk do you think a "healing" but still open wound presents? And most important, how long after my illness do I need to wait to be tested, so that I can be reasonably sure that it wasn't caused by HIV?
Response from Dr. Frascino
Unfortunately, since I have no way of knowing how healed or how open your wound was, I really can't give you an accurate assessment of your risk. Plus, we have no way of knowing the HIV status of your playmate. Consequently, if you are worried, and clearly you are, I'd suggest an HIV test at the three-month mark. (That's three months from the time of your potential exposure, not from the onset of your symptoms.)
If you are obsessing and having panic attacks, I'd also recommend you seek help for this as well. Counseling can help you confront your fears.
Now even though you may feel you've got yourself in a pickle, I'll bet when all is said and done, the results will be a thumbs-up despite your pickle-thumb experience.
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