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Symptoms Questions
Sep 26, 2008

Hello Dr Bob, this a question not a critique of you and other HIV specialist. But why do you and other HIV specialist always say that the main symptoms of Acute Retroviral Syndrome are similar to so many viruses out there. But when you say name one for instance they and you can't. Instead the subject is quickly changed to testing is the only way of knowing your status.

I think people would be a lot more willing to test if they knew the symptoms they were experiencing had a name and not the usual "loads of different viruses out there". I had a load of symptoms recently from a condom breakage with a sex worker - roughly two weeks later I had all the most frequent symptoms of ARS. All I could find regarding my symptoms was Mono and HIV infection!!! Not the hundreds of viruses that supposedly could of caused my symptoms. I don't hold out much hope to be honest. And I tried searching out your archives for people similar to me, but it seems that most people who think they have had ARS have not. Different symptoms happening on each day, week or month! which is not consistent with Acute Retroviral Syndrome (happens mostly at once and is self limiting, lasting 1-2 weeks) at all.

I get my results on Tuesday coming, I know this will be a life changing event - and not for the good. Again, I'm not ranting at you - just an observation.

Take Care

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

"Again, I'm not ranting . . . ." Well, actually you are indeed ranting.

ARS (acute retroviral syndrome) is a collection of various symptoms fever, swollen glands, rash, body aches, etc. The individual symptoms and severity of those symptoms vary considerably from person to person. The best overall nonmedical term to describe the constellation of symptoms is a "flu-like illness." I or any physician could easily list hundreds of conditions that could cause each of the individual symptoms or groups of symptoms. By advising you of this fact, we are trying to decrease your anxiety and your perseveration on HIV as the only cause for your very common (and non-diagnostic) symptom complex! Usually folks find this information comforting. Extremely pessimistic folks like you ("I don't hold out much hope," "I know this will be a life changing event and not for the good") somehow make even these generally reassuring comments negative and discouraging.

There is an excellent chance your results on Tuesday will be negative. So when you write back WOO-HOOing like a banshee in heat, please begin your post with a clarification of your rant, I mean observation, OK?

Dr. Bob



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