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worried sick and confused, need help!!!

Jul 25, 2006

Dr Bob,

You are fantastic; I think what you are doing is truly an inspiration not only for doctors but for human beings; your courage, dedication and positively living a pozitive life give more hope to people than new medecines for HIV on the market... I know you are very busy and receive lots of messages; but please take 5 minutes to read my question and to give me your opinion. I know you cannot give a diagnostic on the Internet and that only testing for HIV is conclusive - also I have read a lot on this forum to get an answer to many of my questions. But, I beg you to give me an HONEST estimation, based on YOUR VAST medical experience, I do not want DEFINITE answers or FALSE reassuring ones...anyway here is the story: my sister had vaginal unprotected contacts with a HIV+ man (he was in the 'window'period and seroconverted). She experienced lots of symtoms of ARS; chills, sore throat, diarrhea, white tongue, muscular pains, joint paints, haed aches, vaginal canidosis, a rash for more than a month. Here are my questions: are these symptoms coming all at once, or one by one? Because she suffered for a sore throat for 3 weeks, then she started to have muscular and joint pains for 2 weeks, then her lymph nodes started to be sore...while muscular pains continued. They are not sore all the times, but usually at night. Also, the pain in the muscles and joints comes and goes (some days is there, the next day is not, then reappears). Sometimes she has tingling in her hands and toes. Is this consistent with ARS symptoms? How long is going to be like that, as I have told you she is experiencing this for more than a month. You said you had 7 symptoms on your conversion period; she seems to have as many. Also, her rash is on her hands and legs, and comes and goes, in hours. Last week, she had an Elisa and Western Blot test at 6 weeks from the last exposure, which come out this a good sign or means nothing? She needs to get tested at 3 months, I know, but some doctors say that 6 weeks mark is a good predictor, is this true? She is very depressed and convinced she is infected, and I do not know how to convince her that she MIGHT be not...Is she? Sorry for the long post; thank you in advance. Please help....the donation is on the way! Thank you very much, you are really an inspiration for us!


Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Clara,

First off, I do not give "FALSE reassuring" answers.

Moving on to your specific questions:

1. "Symptoms" are notoriously unreliable in predicting HIV infection. Your sister had significant HIV exposure and therefore needs to be HIV tested, whether or not she has symptoms.

2. Her negative six-week ELISA is encouraging, but not conclusive. She still needs a test at the three-month mark.

3. If your sister is depressed and convinced she is infected (even though there is no evidence indicating that is the case), she should see a psychologist or psychiatrist for help in coping with her fears, depression and anxiety.

Good luck!

Dr. Bob

PEP in Hong Kong
HIV2 & Testing

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