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How long after infection do you develop symptoms
Dec 16, 2007

Hey Dr. Bob,

I've skimmed many of the questions posted on the forum, as to not ask the same question again. I didn't find exactly what I am looking for, but im sure i probably overlooked it...but here it goes anyways!

I am a 25/m and have been diagnosed HIV+ about 3 weeks ago. I am still pretty shocked by this news, but am dealing with it surprisingly well. My problem is, im not totally sure how or who i got HIV from. I know that i should be focusing on "what do i do next" instead of dwelling on the past...but, i am sure you understand how this thought could plague a person. Anyways, yes, i will admit that i've engaged in oral sex with multiple partners in the past 6-8mos.(swallowing included-sorry to be so blunt!), however, I am a top, and whenever I engaged in anal sex i wore a condom. At no point in time did a condom ever break. I know that the risk of transmission through oral sex is exceedingly low, and being that i am a top, the risk is still lower than that of a bottoms, especially when using a condom! However, the last time i did actually bottom it was unprotected and was while i was still in a relationship with my long term ex boyfriend. We broke up sometime in May/June. I had experienced a bout of what i thought to be strep throat...and short lived flu-like symptoms shortly thereafter while on vacation in august. At this time, the occipital nodes on the back of my neck became inflamed, and they've been inflamed ever since. So i suppose my question is...how long after being infected do you start to show the typical "flu-like" symptoms associated with HIV infection? Do you think it is more possible that I got HIV from my ex boyfriend(i currently dont know his status as he now lives out of town) whom ive bottomed unprotected with, than it is the other partners ive engaged in oral and protected(top) anal sex with?

I apologize if this question seems awfully unorganized and difficult to interpret. It's hard to actually tell what im writing cuz the box they give you to write in is so tiny.

Anyways...Id appreciate any input you may have on this...and thank you for contributing to this forum! It's a lifesaver.

-Chris

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi Chris,

Sorry to hear about your recent HIV diagnosis.

You are correct: oral sex is considered a low-risk activity for HIV transmission. However, extenuating circumstances oral cuts, ulcers, bleeding gums, concurrent oral infections, etc. can increase that risk. Certainly statistically, unprotected anal sex would carry a much higher risk.

The natural history of untreated HIV infection can vary from person to person, based on many different host and viral factors. In general acute retroviral syndrome symptoms occur two to three weeks following viral transmission and may persist for an additional two to three weeks, at which time symptoms subside and seroconversion takes place.

Do I think it's more likely you contracted the virus from unprotected receptive anal sex with your ex-boyfriend? Yes, I do. However, I agree you should be focusing on the realities of today and the promise of tomorrow, rather than what happened yesterday. Life only goes in one direction forward! I'd suggest you read through the wealth of information on this site to learn more about all aspects of HIV and its management. Consider staring with the chapter "Just Diagnosed" that can be accessed under the heading "Quick Links" on The Body's homepage.

Good luck Chris. I'm there if you need me. Let's get through this together and be here for the cure, OK?

Dr. Bob



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