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I think I have HIV due to insect bite reactions
Jun 23, 2008

Hi

I visited Thailand over 4 weeks ago. I had sex and mostly used a condom but one time I inserted my penis without in the heat of the moment. Some of the girls there really don't seem to be educated on the need for protection.

I'm not blaming her at all and take complete self responsibility. I shouldn't even have had sex but I was drunk.

I should have went to the hospital for PEP at this stage but once spoke to a doctor about HIV who told me that the chances of a guy getting it from a girl are about 1 in 1500 so I was way to relaxed about it.

Before I left Thailand I went to the hospital for a check up and I had non specific utheritis probably from chlamydia.

It was from the girl I slept with on the first night.

2 weeks after I got back a raised red mark appeared on my nose. It was an insect bite but was a totally different reaction to what I'd normally get. I went to the doctor and they said it was just a bit and that I'd be okay. This was 3 days after another HIV test which came back negative (it was an antibody test though so it means nothing at such an eaarly stage - about 10 days at most after infection)

Last Monday night I was playing football and got 2 bites on my leg. The next day my leg swelled up like a balloon. This was the calf. I had bites in the UK and in Thailand before and I would normally just get a pimple sized spot and very slight swelling. This swollen leg and the nose bite have both been big over-reactions.

I've not had any other major symptoms other than a prickly feeling in the skin but having checked up on exaggerated reactions to insect bites and it seems that HIV is the most likely problem, especially given tghe timing of this and the fact I got chlamydia.

I have been tested for STDs before and unfortunately the 1 in 1500 figure made me a bit more relaxed than I should have been.

I'm going to get tested again in a couple of months but in the meantime I'm assuming I've got it in the meantime.

I've started looking at sites like this and doing all I can to prepare myself mentally to have it.

Have you heard of any other reasons for a big change in the body that would cause exaggerated reactions to insect bites (other than HIV)?

Many thanks

Hello Dr Bob

Your words and understanding is a great service - I've not been diagnosed pos yet but have had symptoms which I think mean it is very likely I am HIV + (a big and completely different reaction to insect bites)

Anyway, I have been looking at developments in science and the latest good news I could find is below - it was on a European website at the end of April and subsequently on the Current TV website. No sources are named and I wondered if you have heard much about this?

Many thanks Craig

Scientists discover protein that may help halt the spread of HIV

By Adam Lake April 28, 2008 - 21:42 The new approach targets a protein produced by human cells rather than HIV, and is therefore impervious to the virus's mutations. The new approach targets a protein produced by human cells rather than HIV, and is therefore impervious to the virus's mutations.

Scientists discover protein that may help halt the spread of HIV

Scientists have discovered an HIV Aids treatment that may help sufferers avoid the problem of drug resistance.

Scientists have found that the virus can be significantly weakened by inactivating a key human protein called ITK.

Current treatments target the proteins in the HIV virus. This approach weakens the virus but in time it will mutate and resist the drugs that the sufferer is taking.

To combat this doctors will change the combination of the drugs but in time the virus will become resistant to those too. In addition to this, the changing of combinations can bring on serious side effects.

The new approach targets a protein produced by human cells rather than HIV, and is therefore impervious to the virus's mutations.

Researchers in the US found that inactivating the protein, known as ITK, suppressed HIV's ability to infect key human immune cells.

The HIV virus uses the bodies T cells to spread the virus, but by inactivating the ITK protein the virus looses can no longer use T cells.

ITK is a signalling molecule that activates T cells, part of the body's immune system.

Scientists studied the effects of ITK inactivation on cell cultures exposed to HIV and found that suppressing ITK reduced the ability of the virus to enter T cells and have its genetic material transcribed.

Scientists tested the treatment on mice and found that they although they were able to fight other infections, their response to infection was delayed.

The treatment will be welcomed by poorer countries as the treatment would significantly reduce the amount of drugs that a patient would need to take to stay alive.

Anti-retroviral drugs are expensive and the majority of the world's infected individuals do not have access to medications and treatments for HIV Aids.

Other research to improve current treatments includes decreasing side effects of current drugs, further simplifying drug regimens to improve adherence, and determining the best sequence of regimens to manage drug resistance.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Craig,

I combined your two questions.

No doubt your decision to have unprotected sex "in the heat of the moment" places you at some degree of risk for STDs, including HIV. Nonspecific urethritis, like many other STDs, is much easier to acquire than HIV. I agree with your decision to get HIV tested at the three-month mark. However, I certainly do not agree with your assessment and assumption "in the meantime" that you are HIV positive simply because you've noted "exaggerated reaction to insect bites"! If you are concerned about your insect bite reactions, see a dermatologist. I very strongly doubt you are HIV infected, although certainly an HIV test is warranted in light of your risk behavior. However please note the statistical odds are overwhelmingly in your favor.

The take-home lesson from your experience is certainly that unsafe sex is never worth the risk and potential catastrophic consequences. So beware of "the heat of the moment" and always dress for the occasion!

Regarding the report about a potentially new and novel HIV treatment, this is one of many approaches that are currently in development. However, as with so many other promising new therapies, it's important to note that this research is extremely preliminary. It's barely made it into mice trials so far. It takes many years for a promising new drug or therapy to get from this early promising state of development to human safety and efficacy trials and eventually to FDA approval. Many (most) never make it all the way through the drug-approval process due to unanticipated side effects, toxicity or lack of potency/efficacy, etc. One recent example is the news that clinical trials of KP-1461 have been halted. Stay tuned to The Body. We'll keep you updated on this and many other stories as they evolve.

Good luck. Write back with your definitive three-month HIV test results. I'm betting you'll be pleasantly surprised by the results! But either way, I'm here if you need me, OK?

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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