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Pathetic teenager needs help
Aug 14, 2008

Before I begin, let me say that I am incredibly dumb. As in I lack common sense. This is not the first time I have had an HIV-scare sadly enough, but yet I seem to have not learned my lesson. Granted, my situation has thankfully been somewhat safer than the previous, but that's not saying much at all. (For the record, I've tested negative twice in the past after having unprotected bottom anal sex.) And being a 19-year old college student who comes from a conservative family, I really don't have an excuse to contract HIV this early. Onto the story...

Recently, I had unprotected anal intercourse with a male whose status was and still is unknown to me. I was the top, and though I could have prevented this easily, I chose not to use a condom. I got caught up in the thrill of acually being the top for the first time, and I didn't really think I needed one because it wouldn't be such a big risk...yeah, I lack common sense. Forgive me. (I'd also like to say that the thought of barebacking doesn't appeal to me much either. But yet I did it. I'm still trying to figure out why.)

After that encounter, I didn't have any further sex with the person, but I did start freaking out. For the first four weeks, however, nothing was too out of the ordinary. I showed no symptoms of ARS and I managed to not create any psychosomatic ones to my advantage. Then on the fourth week, I got a pain in my testicles, which I attributed to an STD. Out of embarrasment, I kept the most likely cause from the doctor I went to, but he acknowledged that it might be the cause of it, and prescribed me with antibiotics, which successfully treated it.

So, now my main problem/question. Since a few days ago, signs of thrush have appeared on the inside of my cheeks. Additionally, red bumps formed on the back of my throat. At first, I thought I assumed I was coming down with strep throat, as my throat sort of hurt when I first noticed the thrush/bumps. However, my sore throat went away in a few days, but the thrush and bumps remain. It has gotten me extremely worried, and I know the advice of an actual doctor is the better option, but...do you think this could be a sign of ARS, or possibly the beginning of primary HIV infection? I'm thinking it's not the former as I developed this six weeks after my exposure, and I have yet to show any other major symptoms like fever or rash. Is it possible that I could already be experience HIV so quickly? The last time I tested negative was only a few months before this situation occured, and since that time of getting tested, I had practiced safe sex prior to the six-month window period. If this isn't HIV-related, then is it possible that another STD is causing it? I mean, I certainly don't hope I have HIV, but I don't think I'd be very pleased to end up with another STD, or even worse, oral cancer. :(

The only reason why I ask is mostly because I'm not able to see a doctor at the moment. My family (who are unaware of my orientation) are already suspicious on the pain in the testicles thing. I wish I didn't have to fib about this, but I'm not sure how well my parents would handle the news of coming out and saying that I caught an STD. Of course then again, I really do figure that if I can't tell my parents I'm gay, I shouldn't be having unsafe sex, soooo... Anyways, already having an STD has really got me worried about this situation plenty. I've been very depressed, and I fear that it might be making things worse for me. But I'm trying to also look at things on a positive scale at the same time, and if I somehow manage to come out unscathed, then I hope this will be the beginning of practicing safe sex at all times. I have plans to get another test by the end of next month and so on.

If anything, I have to say that this website is a wonderful resource, and I am touched and amused by your comments, doctor. I plan to get counseling to help prevent doing this again, as I suffer from slight depression and anxiety, which I feel is a main catalyst to my risky romps. I have had protected sex before, so I'm certainly no stranger to safe sex or condoms, but I really need to drill it in my head to stop this, if I even get another chance. I plan to donate to your fund whenever I get the chance.

Thank you very much.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

You (like so many others) are making this situation far more complicated than it really is. The fact is you screwed up and had unprotected sex. Consequently, you have placed yourself at risk for STDs, including HIV. Your physician has apparently already treated you empirically for some STDs. In addition, you need an HIV-antibody test at the three-month mark. Symptoms are notoriously unreliable in predicting who is and is not HIV infected. You placed yourself at risk and therefore need HIV testing, whether you are symptom free or have "every symptom in the book." I would also advise against self-diagnosis. You haven't been to medical school and therefore I doubt you are qualified to recognize or diagnose thrush. Your fears about symptomatic HIV disease and oral cancer are unwarranted.

There is no doubt much of your problem stems from your being a sexually active closeted gay man within a conservative family. That you are experiencing "depression and anxiety" is extremely common in situations like yours. This can indeed lead to a poor self image and destructive behaviors, such as unsafe sex.

I would advise:

1. Come out to your parents and friends. It won't be easy, but it is essential for your mental and physical health.

2. Get counseling for your anxiety and depression and explore the issues involved with your "risky romps." Counseling could also help in the coming out process.

3. Get a three-month HIV-antibody test (ELISA, EIA, rapid test).

4. Stop putting yourself at risk for STDs, including HIV. You obviously know better!

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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