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no one supports me

Jul 12, 2006

Dear Dr. Bob,

I must apologize for bothering you with things that you have answered a million times, but you are my only hope and inspiration. I know that you tell each time that symptoms do not equal disease; but unfortunatey, in my case it is very likely to be different. I have been foolish enough to believe a man telling me that he was tested negative; it turned out that he was in the window period and turned positive a month ago. We have practiced unsafe sex, 10-15 times, and sadly, I have started to develop lots of sympoms lately: sore throat for 2 weeks and a half (no cogh, no running nose), white tongue (i did not take any antibiotics), diareea for a month, itchy skin, small red dots on the skin, reddish spots that turn pale brown on my chest, back, legs. After the sore throat stopped I have started to have pains in my joints and in my muscles, and tingling sensations in my toes and for the last few days, and painful swelled limph nodes. I am very worried about the brown spots all over my body, can it be KS developing during ARS? I have taken a test at 32 days from the last exposure, it came out negative. The doctor that gave me the results told me that is impossible to have all these symptoms that they appear on late stages of disease. She told me to get tested again at three months and show me the door. Although she is a HIV specialits did not have a look on the things on my skin or check my body...Few close people that are aware of what happens with me, tell me that I am insane...I feel scared, and confussed and people around me totally disconsider my fears and pain. I do not where to turn; I could not find any AIDS organization in the city I live (I live in a former communist country) What is your opinion, I am sure I experience ARS (for a month or so) and what do you advise me to do next? I am feeling pretty bad, I am scared about this dissease. I am 35, and read that women live less than men with HIV, is this true? Thank you very much for your time, you and your collegues are bringing a ray of hope for people scared, sick and in need for advice and compassion. God bless you! Anna

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Anna,

It is true that having unprotected sex with someone who subsequently tested HIV positive places you at risk for STDs, including HIV. However, it does not mean that you definitely have contracted the virus. In fact, the great majority of folks who get exposed to HIV do not wind up acquiring the illness! The estimated per-act risk for acquiring HIV from unprotected receptive vaginal sex with a partner confirmed to be HIV positive is 1 per 1,000.

As for "symptoms," they are notoriously unreliable in predicting HIV infection. The spots you describe are not Kaposi sarcoma. Your negative 32-day test is very encouraging! However, you do need a three-month test in order to get a definitive result.

Your biggest problem at the moment is fear and anxiety. I suggest you seek the help of a counselor or therapist who can help you cope with the stress of having to wait until the three-month mark to get a conclusive test. Remember, despite your fears, there is still a very good chance you are HIV negative! Take a read through the archives of this forum and you'll find testimonials of folks who have had experiences similar to yours and who ultimately tested negative.

Good luck!

Dr. Bob

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