Oct 31, 2006
I'm normally very straight-laced, but have a taste for adventure (heli-skiing, skydiving, etc.). Almost a month ago, I decided to go for a different type of thrill and went (alone) to a swingers club (rather immaturely, I thought I'd have a good story to share). Anyway, I went, and must have been quite nervous about being there, with those (mostly) middle-aged couples, because I drank so much that I don't remember anything that happened (this sort of drinking is itself unusual for me; I am a VERY occasional drinker - hence, perhaps, my vulnerability to drinking in excess). So, literally, I remember nothing. I woke up in a bedroom on my own at 11am, naked except (importantly, I hope) that I was still wearing a condom (again, bizarrely). If the story ended there, I would forget all about it... I know that contracting HIV would require me to have had unprotected sex with an infected woman, and then to have put on a condom and attempted to have sex again (since I woke up wearing a rubber) but ... I left the place feeling very hungover indeed (nothing surprising there). The following day (c.36hrs after my visit to the club) I started to notice a fever coming on. Nothing too serious, just a noticeably heightened sensitivity to changes in temperature. I woke up quite sweaty that night and the following night. This fever, whilst unpleasant, was not intense (I still went to work as normal; I just looked slightly red in the face and felt hot). More tangibly, the day after the fever hit (i.e. c.60hrs after my club 'initiation') I developed a sore throat which stuck around for c.1 week. My glands were a bit swollen in my neck at this point. The final thing to mention is that the feverish sensation has not entirely subsided. Intermittently, I feel it again.
My hesitancy to get tested at present stems from 3 factors: i) I am not ordinarily sexually active (hence, not a risk to anyone); ii) it would be career suicide (I could never jump ship - medical Q&As - and would, at best be totally marginalised); and of course iii) blind fear. I'd gladly take a home test, but these aren't available in the UK where I am based at the moment. To my questions: i) How do you assess the risks? ii) What else could cause my symptoms (I am seldom unwell, so I deem "pure coincidence" an unlikely theory). If this story has a happy ending, I will certainly make a donation to your cause. Thank you and regards,
Response from Dr. Frascino
Hello Straight-Laced Thrill Seeker,
Since you "remember nothing" about your drunken night at the swingers' club, it is impossible for me to assess your HIV risk. That you awoke naked and wearing a condom would indicate you decided to "swing" and someone had the good sense to cover your stump before the hump. Of course we don't know if any commando action took place before the wiener got wrapped.
Regarding your "symptoms" at 36 to 60 hours after "swinging," these would not be related to HIV, as HIV ARS symptoms take weeks, not hours, to develop. However, the reason to consider testing is potential HIV exposure, not the presence or absence of symptoms. A single three-month HIV test would give you a definitive and conclusive result. As for your three reasons for your hesitancy to get tested, only the third, "blind fear," is relevant and should be overcome with rational thought, common sense and, if necessary, counseling. As for HIV home tests, I do believe they are now available in the U.K. Check with your local pharmacy or local AIDS service organization to review the testing options in your area.
I'll send you my good-luck karma.
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