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Dr. Frascino, I'm begging you to answer my question
Dec 10, 2009

I just want to say thank you for everything you do to help those living with HIV as well as those of us who are scared to death worrying that they could be hiv positive. I have had two encounters recently that have sent me into a major depression. First of all, I am a female who has had very few long term committed sexual relationships. I just went through a divorce a few months ago, and have been very lonely and I think this has contributed to my lack in judgement. I met a guy at a bar, and only after our 3rd date, we had protected sex together and unprotected oral sex. I didn't notice any precum when performing fellatio and he didn't ejaculate. One week later, the same thing happened. The night after the second episode and 8 days after the first episode, I woke up with a sore neck and noticed that my lymph node felt swollen and my ear felt full. I also felt a little sweaty and my skin was clammy. A few days later, my throat was sore, and my right arm felt achy as well as a few other aches. I also had chills and felt abnornmally cold for a few days. I checked my temp and one time it was at 99.4 but that was the highest. One week later, my arm was still aching near the joint and also my right leg behind my knee as well as near my groin area. I couldn't ever feel lymph nodes in these areas, however. I went to the doctor also for the sore throat and he prescribed me a z pac...said it just looked like a sinus infection. Also, when the nurse tried to check my blood pressure...my blood pressure didn't register. She tried it 4 times but couldn't get a reading. The doctor had to do it by hand and that has never happened to me before. Since then...my joints have popped a little and throat still feels swollen even after medicine. One time while watching tv, for 15 seconds my hearing seemed to go out of that ear and then came back. I have been so stressed since this event, because I believe that the guy I had the encounter with is really promiscuous. To make matters worse, my ex husband and I have been talking about getting back together and had protected sex but I was on my period. Just today he told me that his right arm was hurting and that really has sent me over the edge! I told him about my fear and he doesn't seem to be worried about it. Do you think my symptoms are suggestive of ARS, and do you think that my risk is high for 2 encounters of oral sex with no ejaculation? Do you think it is a coincidence that my ex husband said that his right arm was hurting near the joint? Please respond to me, I am scared to death of the thought of hiv to the point that I can't function and don't want to even go to work. Do you think that I am being irrational? I am so afraid that I am going to become one of the few people who get hiv from oral sex. If I take a hiv test at 4 or 6 weeks post exposure, could I feel somewhat relieved by the results if it is negative?

Thank you so much for your time and I will definitely send a donation for your time.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

"Protected" sex is indeed protected, assuming the latex (or polyurethane) condom was used properly and did not break. Unprotected oral sex carries only a very minimal risk for HIV transmission/acquisition.

"Symptoms" are notoriously unreliable in predicting who is and is not HIV infected. That said, your particular symptoms are not worrisome for or suggestive of HIV acute retroviral syndrome (ARS).

That the nurse could not get your blood pressure to register four times is an indication of an incompetent nurse, not a problem with you! (No blood pressure would mean you were dead!)

Do I think it's a mere coincidence that both you and your ex-hubby have sore right arms? Absofrickinlutely!

Are you being irrational? Yep! 

Would a negative HIV test at four to six weeks make you feel better? All negative HIV test are encouraging; however, HIV-antibody tests taken prior to the three-month mark are not considered definitive or conclusive. There is no doubt you are stressed to the max! Your symptoms are very suggestive of anxiety and depression. I'd suggest you contact your general internist for help. Anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications, as well as counseling, may well help. I'm extremely confident you are HIV negative. OK?

Thank you for your tax-deductible donation to The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation (www.concertedeffort.org). It's warmly appreciated.

Good luck. Be well.

Dr. Bob



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