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Desperate Student in Desperation Needing Desperate Advice
Jun 4, 2010

Respected Sir,

A young postgraduate student needs your advice. I have been having worrying symptoms for the past one week suggestive of HIV according to my GP. I have swollen lymph nodes on both sides of my neck, my armpits and my groins. I have an unexplained rash on the back of my body. My muscles ache in different parts of my body. My body is warm in various times of the day although I have no fever. I also have extremely bad dry skin that bleeds, and terrible chest pain. I have terrible diarrhoea too.

I have read the archives on thebody.com, and I do not think I am at risk for HIV. I have never had unprotected sex (no sex at all actually), I am not a drug user, never had a blood transfusion, and my parents do not have HIV. My only exposure is that I had blood drawn for testing in Kenya because I had fallen sick while carrying out my fieldwork in one of the cities there. This is of course based on the reasoning that a contaminated needle was used, and which I have no way of verifying. I do masturbate a lot though after reading the archives you have is that this is a QTND with an ATNC - zero risk. So it is based on my time in Kenya, and the fact that I have these worrying symptoms that my GP has asked me to go for a HIV test. But is it really warranted? Am I at risk? Could I have gotten HIV without actually knowing it i.e. got it without a valid scientific explanation or simply from an unexplained source? I am confused and very anxious. I cant sleep because I worry that I might actually be positive. Or should I just bite the bullet and do the HIV test? This has certainly affected my studies.

I value your advice, and am happy to make a $50 donation to your foundation separately. Appreciate your response. Thank you very much in advance :-)

Hellman

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Hellman,

If you've had no HIV-exposure risk, you could not have HIV. A blood draw in Kenya would be an extremely unlikely cause for HIV transmission. However, if your GP wants to definitively rule HIV out as a cause of your symptoms due to your fieldwork in Africa, an HIV-antibody test is simple enough to get. A rapid test taken outside the window period would provide an answer in as few as 20 minutes.

Your understanding of the HIV risk associated with masturbation is correct: no risk!

Thank you for your donation to The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation (www.concertedeffort.org). It's warmly appreciated. In return I'm sending you my good-luck karma that your definitive HIV test is negative.

Good luck! Write back and let me know the result of your HIV test and further workup. I'll post your followup for our readers.

Dr. Bob



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