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Please I really need help, 4th time posting, will donate
May 15, 2007

Hi Dr. Bob, I know your time is valuable so I will try to keep this as brief as possible so that you can help others as you do so well. I had an unprotected anal insertive encounter almost 6 weeks ago now. I know this was extremely stupid and Ive been going through hell ever since and Im extremely nervous and scared. I know that symptoms are the worst way of confirming/dismissing HIV and Ive read many of the forums thus far about people who have had all the symptoms and come back negative and thats great. Ive even read the one where the guy said his symptoms were not as vague as the others but said he had swollen lymph glands (which is obviously unique and not vague at all). But anyway, after the potential HIV exposure Ive had: 1. swollen lymph glands at 10 days after exposure lasting almost 3 weeks; 2. sore throat that lasted a week about 3 days after the lymph nodes became swollen; 3. a rash on both shoulder blade regions that was composed of many small red blotches about 1-2cm in diameter. (After last summer I got burned in the sun a few times at the beach and had several red circles similar to this that were about 2-3cm in diameter, but were spread out and only a few.) The rash is now barely visible after 3 weeks; 4. as for the headaches Ive had them persistently but I know this is the most meaningless in terms of HIV. I know symptoms can mean nothing, but they just seem to match up with the average time frames and everything, but I guess I already know the answer to how likely these symptoms are of HIV given the possible exposure and length of the symptoms from the exposure. So I guess my other real question that you could actually answer me with maybe a little less tiresomely (as I know youve heard the symptom one all too much), would be if I am going to get tested in the next few days, would the text MOST LIKELY show positive at 6 weeks if in fact these symptoms are from HIV? I know that you cannot really say 100% either way (Im still going to get tested again at 3 months) but I was just hoping that maybe if the test came back negative then this could indicate that at least these symptoms were not from HIV.

Thanks for your help.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

The vast majority of HIV-positive folks will have detectable levels of anti-HIV antibodies in their blood by six weeks. However, "vast majority" is certainly not accurate enough for diagnostic purposes when dealing with an illness like HIV. That's why most current guidelines use the three-month mark. So a negative test at six weeks would be considered encouraging, but not conclusive.

Hope that helps.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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