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Desperate! Scared to death!

Mar 17, 2007

Hi there Dr. Frascino. I typed out a question about a week ago and it never got answered so I will try again.

I'm petrified. I probably shouldn't be but I am. About 3 months ago I had unprotected sex with someone who has only had two other partners besides myself. We have both been in long term monogamous relationships prior to this possible exposure, only see has had sex with one other person in between her monogamous relationship and the encounter with myself.

About 1 month ago (2 months after the exposure) I got a really sore throat, that lasted a lot longer than sore throats normally last for me. I've gotten strep a lot since I was a kid but even now I still feel a fish bone like feeling in my throat, although it does not hurt anymore. Now that the symptoms are subsiding, my lymph nodes have swollen a bit, they are not visibly swollen, but are larger than normal to the touch, which is also unusual and I have never experienced this before. Also, at this same time I became a little unbalanced and lightheaded. I don't know if this was due to an inner ear problem, but I've never felt this sort of vertigo in my life. It wasn't like I was falling over, but I definitely felt a little dizzy all the time. The feeling is subisding, but I still generally feel like something is off. I'm worried this is the beginning of the acute HIV infection stage. I have not experienced any of the other possible symptoms, such as rash, fever, diarrhea, or oral thrush or anything. I also know that these are all symptoms (even the dizziness) of mononucleosis, although I have not been tested for that. I'm just wondering, can someone transmit mono if they have had it in the past, or does it have to be an active infection to be transmitted? I've never had it before but was wondering if I could have gotten it during the unsafe sex from three months ago.

Also, I read that the period during which the symptoms of acute HIV infection appear is 2-4 weeks after infection, and I did not experience any symptoms until about 8 weeks after possible infection. Is this a good sign or of no consequence?

I went and got tested today for HIV. It was a big mortality check for me. I contacted the girl I had intercourse with and the only other partners she has had, and all have assured me they have been tested and that they came up negative for everything. I just can't trust anyone but myself to do the research and realize that you have to be tested at different time intervals for the testing to ultimately result in a definitive answer, so I'm also really nervous about that fact.

I also learned that through this encounter I have been infected with HPV. I myself do not have any symptoms, but my current girlfriend, whom I stupidly had sex with after this particular act of unprotected sex with my friend, went to the doctor and was diagnosed with genital warts. It scares me because when I asked my friend and her other partners if they had anything they all replied by saying they were clean, and this is obviously not the case. I know genital warts are hard to diagnose without symptoms, and I know some people never get symptoms, but still it makes me uneasy. I have also been worried that the fishbone feeling in my throat and the sore throat could have possible been throat warts, or RRP, which is also adding to my anxiety.

I'm a circumsized, heterosexual male who has not engaged in anal sex and has had one act of unprotected sex in his life with a total of two partners in my life time. What are my odds of dodging the bullet? I'm really scared and I'm having a hard time coping with this waiting for the test results. I'm also wondering about getting a rapid HIV test tommorow from planned parenthood, are these accurate at 3 months out? Any and all information is greatly appreciated, and I would love to make a donation to your cause. I myself am a musician, and would love to talk to you sometime about a joint musical effort to support the fight against HIV and AIDS. No matter the outcome of my results, this whole event has opened my eyes to the epidemic and rest of the world and those suffering from AIDS and HIV.

Thank you.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Petrified, Desperate, Scared to Death Musician,

I absolutely agree with you! You shouldn't be petrified (or desperate or scared to death, etc., etc., etc.). Your overall HIV risk is low. Your symptoms feeling unbalanced and lightheaded, questionably swollen lymph nodes and "fish-bone"-in-the-throat feeling are not worrisome for HIV acute retroviral syndrome. However, they are very suggestive of anxiety.

The facts are simple. You had unprotected sex and that places you at some degree of risk for STDs, including HIV. What needs to be done next is also straightforward. You need to get tested and apparently you're in the process of doing so. Regarding rapid tests, yes, they are very reliable. You can check the archives for details.

The silver lining to this entire unfortunate experience is that it has "opened your eyes to the epidemic!"

Thanks for your donation ( In return, I'll send my best good-luck/good-health karma that your definitive HIV test is negative. Musician to musician, I would suggest you take things a bit more "moderato" and less "dramatico!"

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

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