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Symptoms and Window Research

Apr 22, 2007

Hello again Dr. Bob:

I sure wish the "royal they" would do more research on specifics about HIV symptoms and testing windows... the range of what "is consistent with HIV" is useless at best, terrifying and misleading at worst (I'm the 10-month folliculitus worried well guy). The testing window banter ranges from 6 weeks to 6 months - depending on what you read, and then there's are exceptions. You, Dr. Bob offer perhaps some of the best clinical reality stats - but still, it feels much less precise science than those of us worried would like.

For example - on every site like this one (AidsMed, Body, Medhelp, etc) EVERYONE is posting with the same or similar "symptoms" list after exposure, yet basically NO ONE is testing positive (AMEN TO THAT)... but my point is that the symptom-approach is meaningless. Perhaps they should shorten the official CDC list or clarify HIV-phobia vs. actual ARS/early HIV symptoms. Unless----some site gets WAY more specific with symptoms and dates data (I'm talking photos, temperature readings, skin cultures, week by week diaries, SPECIFICS!) The leeway found in most CDC/WebMD/advice sites is possibly more dangerous and contributes to HIV-paranoia than they are helpful.

I think your advice (to others and to me as well) is priceless... we need more specifics like this - less "general CYA" data that puts everyone at the height of fear.

For example - how many of your worried-well, Karma-sent posters actually test positive at 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, a year -- after posting here? Did you ever do a back-track research on such self-reported stats? How many of your clinic patients had same laundry list of symptoms and tested either Poz/or/Neg at 6w,3m,6m,12m, etc.? This kind of thing would be good to know - real stats, not just 90%, 99% type numbers we see that could be based on old and mixed data. Thoughts?

Finally - what will it take to get this testing/symptom science down pat? I know HIV is a slippery foe, but if we can put men on the moon and such -- ya know? I'd trade 10 space shuttles for one solid damn definitive HIV test - or better yet - CURE!

Thanks - and bless you for your help, love & humor.


Response from Dr. Frascino


I think you and all WWs are taking the wrong approach entirely. "Back-track research?" "Photos, temperature readings, skin cultures, week-by-week diaries???" These are not "SPECIFICS;" they are anecdotes and completely useless. What you and all WWs need to know is extremely simple and completely unambiguous: If you've placed yourself at risk for HIV, you need an HIV test at the three-month mark, whether you have no symptoms or every conceivable symptom you can find on the Internet!

You are correct: I'm not a "CYA" guy. Rather, I urge folks to cover their dicks instead. That, too, would go a long way in eliminating much of this useless worry.

Dr. Bob

HOORAH for the Australian Prime Minister!
clinical experience in HIV

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