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No symptoms - I am now more worried!

May 30, 2006

Dear Dr. Bob, Thanks for taking the time to read my message, even if you do not reply.

On the 2nd April I had insertive vaginal sex with a sex worker in China. A condom was used. Prior to the insertion, she masturbated me for a while. I didn't know it at the time, but by doing this she caused a fair amount of skin to be removed from the underside of my penis. No blood, but the skin was removed nonetheless. The only reason I noticed it was after removing the condom.

At the time I was not worried because:

1) I was relatively sure the condom covered the cut.

2) I deliberately did not insert my penis beyond the length of the condom as I did not want any vaginal fluids to come into contact with anything other than the condom.

Now, after replaying the incident every minute of the day in my mind, I am having doubts regarding these issues. What if I was wrong about the condom etc? etc?

Anyway, I went to my local STD clinic and explained to them what had happened and the gentleman there said he didn't see any reason for me to have an HIV test as he didn't see a risk. It's sometimes hard to convert actions into words.

A few weeks later my girlfriend came down with headaches, diarrhea, vomitting over a two day period. I immediately connected it with ARS! Now it just so happens that her entire family came down with the same symptoms. Everyone got it abruptly (probably gastro), but I can't distance myself from me having given her HIV and the illness being attributed to ARS. She has also been fatigued and suffers from more than a few headaches now.

I have had no symptoms whatsoever. NOTHING! Everyone comes onto this forum with symptoms of this and symptoms of that and they end up negative. I am convinced that I am asymptomatic and she is displaying the symptoms. Every time I look at her I am analyzing every part of her body to see if anything is wrong.

I had an ELISA test (4th gen) done at exactly 6 weeks (I know the test is not conclusive until 3 months) and it was negative for HIV, HEP B & C.

I don't know what I am really searching for here Dr.Bob, but I can't get it out of my mind and it is causing all sorts of problems for me emotionally.

I know you say that I should level with my girlfriend, but at this stage I think it unfair for me to place her into the same worrying as myself.

Anyway, I am interested in your thoughts and have the following questions:

1) Although I know a 3 months test is definitive, based on what I have told you, is my 6 week test a good indicator?

2) Is my lack of any symptoms another good indicator?(I also know symptoms don't tell you anything)

3) What other advice can you offer?

Regards Conflicted Nutcase

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Conflicted Nutcase,

Your HIV risk is essentially nonexistent, if the latex condom was used properly, covered the area in question on your penis and did not fail.

Since your girlfriend's entire family "came down with the same symptoms," are we to assume you gave all of them HIV? Did you shag the entire family???

Your girlfriend's symptoms are not worrisome for HIV ARS.

To answer your specific questions:

1. A negative six-week test is encouraging, but not definitive. Of course, since your risk is essentially nonexistent, a negative result no matter when you take the test is to be expected.

2. Symptoms or no symptoms doesn't really matter. Your risk was nonexistent and your HIV tests will confirm your negative status.

3. Level with your girlfriend. Your "emotional problems" are related to guilt. Owning up to your indiscretion is the best way to confront your guilt and anxiety. It's also the right thing to do. You asked for my advice and now you have it. The next step is yours.

Dr. Bob

Very valid questions

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