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textbook symptoms
Jul 20, 2011

I was recently a student in the city of London for a short time and had my first experiences with night clubs. I know that inner cities are target areas for HIV positive people simply because of sheer statistics and numbers. My concern is with a night a couple of months ago. I don't remember everything from the night, only bits and peices ( like getting there, going home, and inbetween dancing a little bit). This might partially have something to do with drinking, and simply to the passage of time in general, but about a month after the night in question I experienced an illness unlike any I'd ever had before.

It lasted for about three or four weeks, starting two weeks after the night I'm referring to. The glands in my neck and my spleen felt overloaded and hurt so much that moving my neck and body sometimes caused pain. I can never remember my lymph nodes swelling in any past illnesses I've ever had, so this caused some alarm. At the same time I developed two non-itchy bumps that looked a bit like bug-bites on my neck that took about two weeks to clear up. I started doing some online searching to figure out what was making me feel so sick, and HIV came up as a possibility. Sure enough all my symptoms fit perfectly: two possibly "maculopapular" bumps in the neck region, swollen glands, and even a canker sore. I don't remember doing anything that would have exposed me to the virus, all I know is that I know I didn't have intercourse with anyone due to the fact that I'm a virgin and still...well, fully intact down there (if you catch my drift). The combination of perfectly textbook symptoms at the proper times, in addition to peices of the night that I now simply can't put together have convinced me that I must be HIV positive. I can't figure out how it could have happened, my thoughts are constantly switching between scenarios in which someone injecting my body with drugs for a laugh, or oral sex that might have happened. I know that it sounds rediculous but my dreams and thoughts wont let it go. I'm constantly afraid that one day I'm going to drop dead. At the 6 week mark I was tested for HIV and the test came back negative. I have been afraid ever since to get tested at 3 months for fear of the way my family and friends would respond if I was HIV pos. I can't summon up the courage to get tested or let go of my fears, and am stuck in a horrible limbo! I had also tested for mono at the time, and that came back negative too. Is there any way that a different illness could have caused my textbook HIV symptoms? Help me!The internet has convinced me that I am HIV postive.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi.

Symptoms are notoriously unreliable in predicting who is and is not HIV infected. Your symptoms are NOT "textbook". In fact they are not even consistent with HIV acute retroviral syndrome (ARS)! I think "Dr. Google" has caused you to misdiagnose yourself! For example, the swollen nodes associated with HIV are generally non-painful. The HIV ARS rash is a generalized eruption on the face, trunk and, sometimes, extremities (not two bumps on the neck!). I see absolutely no cause for concern or HIV testing. HIV is not your problem. Now way. No how. However, you do have a medical problem: irrational fear of HIV. You report your "dreams and thoughts won't let it go." BINGO! There's your problem. Yep, it's all in your head! If my reassurance is not sufficient for you to put these totally unwarranted worries permanently to rest, you should consider seeking help from a licensed mental health professional. The therapist will help you confront and hopefully conquer your irrational fears. Even if "the Internet has convinced (you) that (you) are positive," that doesn't mean you actually are positive! Check out the other posts in the archives in the chapter entitled "I'm Positive I'm Positive." You'll see you are not alone in having these types of irrational fears.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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Worried (LIPODYSTROPHY, LIPOATROPHY, LIPOHYPERTROPHY, 2011)

  
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