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How can you be so certain
Jan 8, 2008

Hi Doc: Firsties, thanks so much for all you do and being who you are, you are providing an incredible service. Secondly, we all know the common symptoms of ARS (fever, rash, swollen nodes, thrush). Now i've read through most of the posts, and all these people who have had unprotected sex complaining about these above-mentioned symptoms, you frequently tell them that what they're complaining of doesn't sound like ARS. I'm just confused as to how you differentiate between "real" and "coincidental" symptoms indicative of ARS. Please don't take this as me doubting your opinions, i'm only asking because i've had sex about 3 weeks ago and now i have many of those symptoms. I don't want to just write in describe them and read that i don't have HIV, rather i'm more concerned is how do i know its not ARS (other than a test)? thanks again doc, happy new year!

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

The answer to your question is a lot more complicated than you might have originally guessed. There are many different reasons I may advise someone their particular symptoms are not suggestive of or worrisome for HIV ARS (acute retroviral syndrome). For instance, the timing of the onset could be wrong or perhaps the exposure really wasn't an exposure. You would have to go back to each situation and carefully read through the text to determine the exact circumstance for me to be any more specific. However, I really think you, like so many of the folks who visit this forum with concerns, are really missing the most crucial thing about potential HIV-related symptoms. Symptoms, no matter what they are, are notoriously unreliable in predicting who is and is not HIV infected. The reason to consider HIV testing is having placed oneself at risk for acquiring HIV. If you've placed yourself at risk, you need an HIV test at the three-month mark, whether you have absolutely no symptoms or develop "every symptom in the book." It really is just that straightforward. And that is the real take-home message about "symptoms!"

Dr. Bob



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