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Worried College Student, Desperate!!
Mar 30, 2008

Dear Dr. Bob,

Please help, I'm desperate and thoughts of HIV are slowly taking over my life, I can hardly think straight anymore (much less study for school), please help me put this anxiety to rest...

Sorry to ask the same question twice, i feel like i left out too much the first time. I had unprotected sex last year that drew blood. 8 wks post exposure I developed symptoms: sore lymph nodes, nausea, SORE muscles, night sweats etc.. took a blood test at 9 wks: neg, home access at a little before 5 months: neg, and orasure at 1 yr: neg. I, however, continue to have symptoms: sore lymph nodes in armpit and groin, sore muscles, tightness and soreness in the neck, fatigue, nausea... I just can't seem to get over it... The cases i read about where the people never really developed antibodies and tested negative repeatedly, but were actually HIV+, Did those people have special circumstances, ie cancer, or some other condition that weakened their immune system, or had they developed AIDS and were no longer able to produce antibodies? Why else would a healthy, young, say 20 year person, not develop antibodies?

Do you think I should get a PCR or Western Blot test just to be sure? What would you do if you were in my situation?

Thanks so much for your help in advance, you have no idea how much your advice would mean to me!

-Desperate College Student

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Desperate College Student,

"Why else would a healthy, young, say 20 year person, not develop antibodies?" That's an easy question and one that a college student should be able to answer! The answer is quite obvious. You didn't develop anti-HIV antibodies because you don't have HIV!!! Yes, it really is just that straightforward! Your repeatedly negative HIV tests out to one year post-exposure are definitive and conclusive. Symptoms are notoriously unreliable in predicting who is and is not HIV infected. A negative FDA-approved HIV test outside the window period trumps symptoms each and every time. I cannot diagnose the cause of your symptoms over the Internet. However I can, with great certainty, tell you what's not causing them: It's not HIV! No way. No how! HIV is not your problem.

Should you get a PCR or Western Blot? Absolutely not! What would I suggest for your situation? I'd suggest you see your general medicine doctor for an evaluation of any persistent or worsening symptoms. I'd also suggest you stop perseverating on a disease you could not possibly have. It's also worth pointing out that your symptoms may well be psychosomatic and caused by your irrational and unwarranted fears of being HIV infected. Counseling may help you overcome these fears.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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