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please answer my question? (ARS SYMPTOMS, 2009)

Jul 14, 2009

1. after 8 weeks of my possible exposure develop dizziness for almost 3 weeks now...this is ARS?


Response from Dr. Frascino


Very doubtful. Dizziness is not a common symptom of HIV acute retroviral syndrome, particularly if it's an isolated symptom. You can read much more about ARS symptoms in the archives. Have a look! I'll reprint below a sample of what can be found in the archives.

If you've had a possible exposure to HIV, you'll need an HIV-antibody test at the three-month mark.

Thank you for your donation to the Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation ( It's warmly appreciated. In return I'm sending you my good-luck karma that your definitive three-month HIV test will be negative.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

ARS Symptoms Nov 26, 2008

Dear Doc Bob,

My sincerest congratulations on your recent marriage. May your union be blessed & filled with happiness for many many years!

I can't help but look up to your noble efforts in advising perhaps tons of people. I've read through most of your advises & have learned a lot from you. Going straight to my query, you've advised a lot of worried folks that their symptoms are "not worrisome of acute retroviral syndrome (ARS)." I'd like to shoot the question: what exactly are symptoms which you will advise as "worrisome" of ARS? In case there are any historical posts answering this query, would you be kind enough to guide me & perhaps others who might have the same question in mind?

Many thanks & God bless us all!

-Worry Wart

Response from Dr. Frascino


Thanks for the congratulations and good wishes.

Regarding ARS symptoms, see below.

Dr. Bob

What exactly are the symptoms of ARS? Nov 15, 2005

Dr. Bob,

Hi there. I've been reading through many of the postings in this forum. Most of the people who write-in are labeled "worried wells" and you tell them that their symptoms are not consistent with the true symptoms of ARS.

I was wondering if you could share with us what you believe the true symptoms of ARS to be. I've found lots of websites describing them, but I want to hear it from a reputable and definitive source such as yourself.

Thanks a lot.

Response from Dr. Frascino


Sure, just check the archives. I've discussed this many times before. I'll repost below just one of the questions that addresses the signs and symptoms associated with primary HIV infection.

Stay well. Be informed, not worried, O.K.?

Dr. Bob

Me again! Aug 14, 2005

Hi DOc,

You responded to my initial question a few weeks back - thank you so much. You also responded to my partner who was recently diagnosed positive - that was so helpful. Incidentally, I think it was the first time he used a computer in his life - so you achieved more than I have with him there!

Anyway, sorry to bother you again - its now 8 / 9 weeks since my last exposure - I think I am imagining swollen glands all the time! Could you kindly answer two small questions. Firstly, how long after infection do people normally get ARS and symptoms? Secondly, what symmptoms are characteristic?

Thankyou for helping. My partner is being really strong - andw e will get through this together, I love that american term worry well - yes I am a british one of those, sorry!! xx

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi Brit-Boy,

You're welcome!

Chances are you are indeed "imagining" swollen glands all the time. Regarding ARS, symptoms generally appear 1-3 weeks of contracting the virus. Sometimes symptoms may not appear until 4-6 weeks. It is called a syndrome (Acute Retroviral Syndrome), because it is a collection of symptoms that can be extremely variable form person to person. In fact, symptoms alone are notoriously unreliable in predicting HIV infection. It is estimated that 40-90% of acutely infected folks will have some ARS symptoms. But to specifically answer your question, the following is a list of symptoms associated with ARS and the percentage of time the symptoms are present:

Fever 96%

Adenopathy 74%

Pharyngitis 70%

Rash 70%

Myalgias 54%

Headache 32%

Diarrhea 32%

Nausea or vomiting 27%

Hepatosplenomegaly 14%

Thrush 12%

Neurologic symptoms 12%

The duration of symptoms is generally 1-3 weeks.

Regarding your lover's use of the computer, now that he's discovered the wonders of Internet look out!!!! He just may get so hooked that the only way you'll be able to converse with him is via IM-ing!

Good luck!

Dr. Bob

Dr. Bob: Please stop fooling around, and answer hard questions Oct 21, 2004

Dear Dr. Bob:

I think youre great, but lately Ive noticed that you simply arent being straight with your audience. Please dont take this the wrong way, but you need to start taking more challenging questions such as what happened to me 10 weeks ago.

I met a girl at a party in law school, and I had sex with her. I used a condom. But I before having sex, I licked the exterior of her vagina for about 10-15 seconds. My tongue did not penetrate her vagina, nor was she menstruating or moist at all.

The Student Health Services staff had the nerve to tell me that I was being lame, and that my risk was virtually nonexistent. Im sorry, but I beg to differ. During the past 10weeks, I have had classic ARS symptoms. I have had post-nasal drip for nearly 12 weeks straight. But my symptom most consistent with ARS is the following: I have had an on and off cough for 10 weeks. This cough has been a dry cough, and sometimes hacking. The coughs come in coughing spells lasting about 3-4 seconds, and occur about 8 or 9 times a day.

These classic ARS symptom began about 1 day after my risky encounter described above. They lasted for about 2 weeks. Then the same EXACT symptoms came back to attack me 2 weeks later, again for another 2-3 weeks. Its been off-and-on since. To give you more information: this coughing was really bad during the first wave of symptoms (i.e., during Week 1 through Week 2). In addition, I have had a stuffy nose and sometime runny nose with all these ARS symptoms. No fevers or any other class ARS symptoms.

Give it to me, Dr. Bob, no matter how hard it may be for you to tell it straight. Obviously, the folks at the student health center dont have the guts to tell me my true risks. I know you always say that symptoms do not equal HIV infection; however, considering the timing of my risky experience, isnt it clear as 100% that my on-and-off 10-week coughing (that was especially bad during the first two weeks) consistent with ARS and HIV infection

Response from Dr. Frascino


"Aren't being straight with my audience???" Hello!! I'm gay. Remember?

OK, so you want me to tackle your "more challenging" question. Now let's see, that would be condom-protected sex and 10-15 seconds of exterior vagina licking. Have I got that correct? OK, now the student health service tells you that you are being lame and that your risk is nonexistent, but you don't agree. And for 10 weeks you've had "classic ARS symptoms," characterized solely by postnasal drip and intermittent cough. Hmmm, I see. And you feel it's "clear as 100%" that your problem is consistent with ARS and HIV infection. Now, remind me again why this is supposed to be a challenging question rather than exactly the same as so many others I've already responded to.

If you are in law school, I must say the case you present is lacking both evidence and credibility, and your presentation also leaves much to be desired. So, future counselor, approach the bench and listen up. Your risk was indeed minimal to negligible. Your symptoms are not consistent with HIV ARS or HIV disease. If you remain concerned, get HIV tested in two weeks, i.e. the three-month mark; however, the primary reason to do so, in my opinion, would be only to calm your unjustified fears. I also suggest you do a bit of research before discounting the questions of others who post to this forum by actually reading the archives. Future counselor, you have little, if anything, to worry about (particularly concerning HIV), however you have a great deal to learn (and not only about HIV).

Case closed!

Dr. Bob

Drop in CD4 and increase in viral load counts

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