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PLEASE help! I'm so scared.

Jul 29, 2008

Hi Dr. Bob,

I want to THANK YOU for providing such an amazing website...I have been reading some of your posts and you do a wonderful job of putting people's mind's at ease. I have a question that may sound very silly...and I apologize for my "ignorance" as I have been trying to learn about HIV by doing online research and there seems to be some crazy information floating around from website to website. Here is my situation: I am a woman, and in November of 2007, I had sexual relations with a man whose HIV status is unknown to me. I gave him oral sex without a condom and then we proceeded to have vaginal intercourse that was first. He only inserted his penis inside of me 2 times before I made him stop and put a condom on. So, I'm guessing that the only fluid I would have had contact with would be pre-ejaculation, although I am not 100% sure. I do not remember him having any sores and I do not believe that I had any either. Now, I have been completely freaking out and almost trying to diagnose myself with HIV. Of course I have "noticed every symptom" in myself. Every time I cough or have a sore throat or diarrhea, I convince myself that I am dying. This is actually starting to consume my life. I know that I did catch a cold for a few days about 6-8 weeks after my sexual encounter, but I never went to a Doctor and the cold went away with Tylenol and other over the counter medications. I have also noticed that I repeatedly get an itchy, burning sensation when I urinate (usually around my period, but not strictly at this time). I don't know if I'm wiping too much or too hard, but it's an awful feeling. I currently also have a small, flesh colored bump inside of my vagina. This is the 2nd time that this has happened to me. The first time, I wouldn't leave it alone and it ended up getting about as big as an eraser tip and I was able to pop it. This time, I have left it alone and it hasn't gotten as irritated and seems to be going away by itself. Could this be an ingrown hair? I don't know if that makes sense though since it is on the inside of my vagina. I have also started having bad stomach's not nausea, it almost feels like an inside bruise, but I can't tell. I'm also getting kancor sores in my mouth, but I'm wondering if these could be stress related?? Here is the last part that I know sounds very ignorant...I was dating a man prior to my encounter in November. We got to the point in our relationship that we were comfortable with having unprotected sex with eachother, but then split up because I found out that he had another woman pregnant. The new mom and baby are both healthy, so that lead me to assume that I was in the clear also, since he was obviously having sex with both of us at the same time. Since I split with the ex...the new encounter in November 2007 is the only one that I have had because I have been so scared of sleeping with anyone else. I have an HIV test scheduled for tomorrow and I am absolutely horrified to the point that I don't even know if I will be able to make myself go to the appointment. What are my chances that I could have contracted HIV from the unprotected oral sex and the brief, but still unprotected vaginal sex? I would really like some piece of mind before entering the clinic tomorrow...I'm so scared of what the results could be. Please help me, my anxiety level is out of control!!

Response from Dr. Frascino


Yes, there is indeed "some crazy information floating around from website to website" pertaining to HIV. That's why I recommend you limit your searches to well respected scientific sites, such as The Body.

Your HIV risk is extremely low, but not completely nonexistent. Oral sex carries a very low HIV-transmission/acquisition risk. Unprotected receptive penile-vaginal sex carries a higher risk, but your exposure was brief (two thrusts). Pre-cum does contain live virus and can transmit HIV. Consequently, HIV testing is warranted at the three-month mark (three months from the time of your last potential exposure). Excessive worry and anxiety about the test is not warranted, as the odds are very much in your favor.

As for your symptoms, they are not suggestive of or worrisome for HIV acute retroviral syndrome (ARS). You should have the "colored bump inside your vagina" evaluated by your gynecologist.

My advice is simple:

1. Get a single HIV test at the three-month mark.

2. Do not ever again place yourself at risk for STDs, including HIV, by having unprotected sex. It isn't worth the potential catastrophic consequences. I'm confident you've now learned that lesson from this unnerving experience.

Good luck. Stay safe. Stay well.

Dr. Bob

Blood Exposure in Hospital
10 years later, plus one

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