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Emotional Wreck, Third Time...Please Help Dr. Bob

May 16, 2006

Hey Dr. Bob, thanks so much for doing this great service for all of us who are wrecks...I have a sort of typical question but really want your opinion on the matter. So..about 4.5 weeks ago I met a guy in Athens, Greece and had sex with him....I was so stupid and wreckless. It was my first time being penetrated...technically I was a virgin before this encounter. We used protection but, sadly, the condom broke. He did not (could not) penetrate very far at all before he noticed the condom was broken and he pulled out right away. He did not ejaculate although there was probably a little bit of precum. Contact was pretty brief..probably less than a few minutes, but I'm soooo scared. I think he penetrated just enough for infection to be viable. He told me he was negative, but I don't know if he was being honest...his sexual history was a bit scary. Anyway, I know you say symptoms are never a reliable indicator of infection, but I'm seriuosly experiencing some of them. One of the lymph nodes right under my jaw is obviously swollen...it's like a miniature egg. It became swollen about 4-5 days after the possible exposure and has not gone down since. I've read that 4-5 past exposure is too soon for symptoms to pop up...is this true? And is it cause for concern that there's a hard little egg in my jaw that's been there for over a few weeks? Also, I believe (although not sure) that the lymph nodes just around my collar bones are swollen..they're hard and not painful...bad sign I know. I've heard this is a sure sign of HIV infection. Also, just yesterday I've been experiencing tingling sensations in my left arm and hand and a little in my left foot...all I can think of is peripheral neuropathy. Also, it looks like I have a rash under my left armpit...looks like the one most commonly associated with ARS...muscopopular or something of that nature. It's so scary...I just can't do this. If I am positive, my family will die...that's what hurts the most because I know they'll never recover...and they'll find out I'm gay, which will make things even worse. It's just too much to fathom. I'm such a wreck right now...I just know I have it. It's not just in my head...I feel these symptoms. I want to get tested at 5-6 weeks...I've read that testing during this time period is pretty much conclusive, but the 3 month figure is used just to be safe and that it's pretty rare that people serconvert after 6 weeks. Please help Dr. Bob...what do you think? My symptoms are scaring the crap out of me...and they're causing me to start thinking about how I'm gonna break this news to my family. It's just so painful to think about. I need your help Dr. Bob.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Emotional Wreck,

I'll be brief:

1. Your HIV risk is minimal at best.

2. Your symptoms are not suggestive of or worrisome for HIV.

3. Get a single HIV test at the three-month mark. Testing prior to this is not considered to be definitive.

4. Come out to your family. Closets are hazardous to your health.

I'll send my good-luck karma.

Dr. Bob



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