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Do Tests Always Trump the Symptoms?
Mar 8, 2010

I am a male in my late 30's and had protected vaginal sex with a Jamaican prostitute 1 year ago. I had no idea of the risk -- I know it all too well now. My life since then has been complete hell. I would like your expert opinion on whether I should stop worrying every second of my life and move on or continue digging.

Here is the synopsis of what has happened since that night.

First, the risk. Obviously high although I wore protection. I know it didn't break -- I checked it afterwards. She told me she was clean (for whatever that was worth). I showered before and after.

Second, testing. I have tested negative over and over again. I tested negative using the HIV 1 Home Access Test at 3, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 18, 21, 25, 38, and 52 weeks. I tested negative with the Oraquick HIV 1/2 test at 12 and 28 weeks. I tested negative with a NAT test which I requested from my doctor at 8 weeks. And negative using a test I ordered online for HIV 1 & 2 and Group O at 14 weeks. I also tested negative for Hepatitis B & C.

Excessive, I know. But this is why.

Third, symptoms. My symptoms since that day have been the following:

- 2 days later, extreme exhaustion and dark circles under my eyes that continued for about 2 months. - About 1 week later, the complete inability to sleep for more than 10 minutes at a time. This lasted for about 3 weeks. - A yeast/jock itch infection at 4, 6, and 8 weeks. I finally got it under control using talcam powder. Has been in check since but I started eating yogurt daily for the first time in my life. - Immediate weight loss of about 20 lbs. But this coincided with my giving up drinking cold turkey after that night -- previously I would drink 6-8 bottles of wine a week and then binge eat at night. - A red rash on my face, flaking forehead and nose folds, and extremely itchy scalp from weeks 4-8 which I assume was seborrheic dermatitis. I sware I saw this happen. I had an unusual dot in the middle of my forehead that looked like something was burrowing. Hours later the hole was covered up. And the next day all of this started. The flaky forehead has continued off and on. My head has been fine since (except for a number of pimples or swollen follicles on the back of my head). - A general feeling of nausea, hot flashes, and general discomfort from 4-6 weeks. - 5-6 Ulcers in various locations in my mouth and a burning sensation on my tongue. Also found deep pockets in 2 of my back teeth (although I have been fighting this problem for over 5 years). - When I awake and pee for the first time, my urine is so foamy it looks like I just poured a glass of beer. - A couple of periods with mild diarrhea and what seems like unusually large stools. - Constant ringing in my right ear. My doctor flushed out a ton of wax but it is still happening.

My doctor knows my symptoms but has admitted not being an expert in this disease. My doctor has ordered numerous blood tests, a urine test, a kidney/liver ultasound, etc. but has not ordered any additional HIV tests or CD4 testing. So far the only irregularity is that I have a high liver enzyme (which I have known about for over 4 years).

I am in absolute terror. Can I believe these test results or I am some sort of outlier? I want to stop worrying and spending countless hours looking for answers, but every time I try to move on, random symptoms pop back up.

I have read all the posts that say the tests trump the symptoms. Is that true here? What would you advise I do next?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

I'll make a few brief comments:

1. HIV is not your problem. No way. No how. No additional HIV tests are warranted. You've had way too many already.

2. Your risk is not "high," but rather very low, because you used a condom and it did not break.

3. Your testing is extremely excessive. Exactly what part of HIV negative are you having difficulty understanding?

4. Symptoms are notoriously unreliable in predicting who is and is not HIV infected. Yes, a negative HIV test outside the window period trumps symptoms each and every time.

5. You are not an outlier. You are an anxious wreck with totally irrational fears.

6. As for what I would advise next, that's easy. Yell WOO-HOO and stop all this nonsense! Frevinsakes!

Dr. Bob



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