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Sero Conversion sickness while on PEP
Jul 7, 2009

Dr Bob,

Can you please help. I had one unprotected anal sex episdoe while I was drunk about 8 days ago. I was the insertive partner (I did have receptive anal sex but used a condom, also did lots of oral and rimming. I had had some dental work the previous day). The unprotected sex didnt last too long but and we did use KY and initially a condom before removing it at his request. I have reason to suspect that the other guy does this sort of thing a lot and hence may be positive. The next day, about 38 hours later, I started taking PEP. I now keep checking for symtoms of sero conversion sickness very often and it is causing me mental distress. I have checked my glands numerous times today. I still have about three weeks to go on the treatment. Can you tell me whether its possible to get seroconversion sickness while on PEP? Also, is a test at two weeks any indication of my status? I realize it wont be conclusive.

Thanks

Tim

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi Tim,

Yes, it's possible to experience acute retroviral syndrome (ARS) symptoms while on PEP, if the PEP is not working to abort the HIV infection. PEP is not 100% effective. I, for instance, took my first dose within seconds of my occupational exposure, but seroconverted nonetheless. That said, I would strongly urge you not to be so hypervigilant about symptoms. Continually prodding yourself for swollen glands or walking around all day with a thermometer in your mouth is not going to change the outcome of your PEP therapy. At this point you are doing everything you can. Just continue to take your PEP as directed and then get your post-PEP HIV tests (six weeks, three months and six months from the date of exposure).

Needless to say, you are learning the lesson of the risks of unprotected sex the hard way. I'm confident you'll never put yourself at such risk again. Hopefully your story will encourage others not to put themselves at risk as well.

Good luck Tim. I'm here if you need me.

Dr. Bob



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