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Confused?
Apr 12, 2007

Hello Dr. Bob. I was reading a particular question on your site and noticed that you said it took an average of 8 years to develop HIV/AIDS related symptoms? Okay, here's my question:

What is the difference between HIV/AIDS symptoms and ARS symptoms?

I'm asking because I had unprotected sex about 9 months ago. Since then I've had HIV tests done at 4 months and 6 months. I know this is considered definitive and conclusive. However, I read that there have been one or two reported cases of persons taking longer than 6 months for seroconversion. I've always been a healthy individual, but ever since that encounter, I've had problems with Chostrochondritis (chest wall pain) in my upper rib cage. I've also developed a problem with my Thyroid gland as well as problems with my stomach and stress. I know I should probably yell my "woo hoo" and stop worrying. My doctor told me not to worry about the chest wall pain. He said he would prescribe me some pain meds if it got too bad.

Anyway, how do I finally stop worrying about HIV? I know the 6 month test is conclusive, but I still have that doubt in the back of my mind. What would you suggest I do to finally put my doubts and fears to rest?

Thanks Dr. Bob. I will donate to your cause as soon as I can.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

The difference between HIV/AIDS symptoms and ARS symptoms??? ARS stands for acute retroviral syndrome. It is a collection of symptoms (fever, swollen glands, rash, etc.) that occurs several weeks after primary infection with HIV. During this time, there is a precipitous decline in CD4 cells and a skyrocketing HIV plasma viral load. Symptoms subside as the plasma viremia decreases while the immune response "kicks" in. Clinically, the HIV-positive person then may be essentially symptom-free for a number of years. However, gradually CD4 cells decline to the point that we become "immunodeficient," which means we become susceptible to opportunistic processes (infections and malignancies) that generally wouldn't bother folks with normal immune systems. These opportunistic processes account for the symptoms of late-stage AIDS that generally occur 8-10 years after initial infection.

I agree your repeatedly negative tests out to six months are conclusive and definitive. HIV is not your problem. No way. No how. Your "symptoms" are absolutely and positively not HIV related.

How can you finally stop worrying about HIV? I would recommend psychological counseling to help you accept the undeniable and irrefutable fact that you are HIV negative. Once you accept that reality, you'll WOO-HOO without worry, OK?

Dr. Bob



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