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literally going insane
Feb 1, 2011

I'm a nineteen year old girl who lives in Toronto, Ontario. About a month and a week ago, I had unprotected sex with an older man I met over the internet. It was an incredibly stupid thing to do and I am obviously regretting my actions now. About a week prior to having sex with this man, I had the flu, which I caught while sleeping over at my best friend's house. So I was still recovering from my flu while I had sex with this man.

So, about a week after having sex with this man, I began to develop a dry cough with 'some' phlegm. One night, I decided to google "HIV" and all of its symptoms, and ever since then I have been going insane.

As of now, about a month later, I feel like I have joint and muscle pain, I still have the cough (the cough went away for a week or two, and only recently came back. there feels like there's something in my chest, like, bacteria or something - I'm suddenly out breath after climbing up a flight of stairs, my palms have been more itchy than before - which i read was a side effect of HIV - i have bumps on the back of my tongue, which are white, but i don't think it's thrush because i have had a white coating on my tongue for a long while now. i have arm pain and my arm pits feel itchy. also, they feel swollen today but i've been prodding at them and my neck all day. i feel like i have a slight fever and i've been having ear aches, but i've also been having tooth aches so i don't know if they're in any way related. my neck also feels tense and i'm scared that i may have swollen lymph nodes. i've also been having reoccurring headaches, and morning sicknesses. I know that I'm not pregnant because I tested negative)

So, with these symptoms in mind, I went to a clinic which exists in my university, and both the doctor and a nurse told me that I was most likely going to be fine. I had a pap smear and a blood test taken, even though they seemed confident that I had nothing. I don't know why I'm freaking out. I ask the man I had sex with about five times every day if he's clean, and he has always said yes, that he was tested this past summer.

I was told by the nurse that I had a urinary tract infection.

Please answer my question - I PROMISE that I am going to donate. In fact, after this, (I kind of have an intuition that I'm not positive, but sometimes I'll go through bouts of paranoia where I want to rip out my hair. I mean, with all of these symptoms, what the heck is going on?) I promised myself that once I graduate, at some point in my life, I will do some kind of work within the study of HIV and HIV+ people.

So, yeah. The nurses and doctor basically told me that a lot of my symptoms could be caused by anxiety, but they obviously aren't sure. And since the doctor did that thing where they touch your neck and ask you to breathe or if it hurts in that particular area, she would have felt it if anything was swollen, right? I am just so scared. Thank you for looking in to my inquiry.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Unprotected sex does place you at some degree of risk for STDs, including HIV. That can't be denied. However, the odds are all in your favor that you did not contract HIV from this lapse in judgment.

Symptoms are notoriously unreliable in predicting who is and is not HIV infected. Your symptoms are not consistent with HIV acute retroviral syndrome (ARS). I agree with your doctors and nurses at the university clinic: your symptoms are most consistent with anxiety.

If you are still in contact with your sex partner, perhaps he would be willing to get a rapid HIV test. Results are available within a few short minutes. If he tests negative, you'll be able to relax considerably. At that point, your risk would be reduced to the very remote possibility that he was very recently infected and still within his window period (HIV infected but not having produced enough anti-HIV antibodies to test positive on an HIV test). You will need an HIV test at the three-month mark for a definitive and conclusive result. You may also need help controlling your anxiety during the window period. Counseling and/or anti-anxiety medication may help.

Good luck! Toronto is one of my favorite cities, by the way. I grew up just across Lake Ontario in Rochester, NY and visited Toronto frequently!

Dr. Bob



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