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Dorothy and Toto say hello!
Jul 24, 2011

Dear Dr. Bob,

Greetings from Kansas, where the temp is boiling along with my curiosity. I recently have been presenting with some strange health issues, namely: (1) Frequent nosebleeds (3x a week, sometimes more); (2) Random bruising around my body in the absence of trauma/injury (#1 and #2 sound like anemia possibly, no?); (3) Frequent headaches, occasional migraines (headaches several times a week); (4) Fatigue ; (5) Acute abdominal pain that makes me feel sick but manifests as an intense lower back pain; (6) Sensitivity to light (could be related to the headaches?).

None of these are chronic, seem to come and go, but are happening consistently over the past 6 weeks.

I come to you (The Wizard of Poz!), because my casual search for information while I wait for my Doctor's Appt (not until early August) have indicated that several of these could be symptoms of HIV. I am an otherwise healthy, 33 year old professional female. I'd rate my exposure risk as relatively low, but fact is I have had unprotected sex with 2 partners of unknown status in the past 9 months.

I've taken the step to schedule an appointment with my health practitioner, but as you can imagine I have been very concerned now that I have read of these symptoms being possible manifestations of HIV infection.

In your experince, would these be common symptoms of symptomatic HIV infection, either early-, mid-, or mature-stage? I know that some of these are generalized symptoms of many other illnesses/disorders, but just seems odd--and scary--that in my research on what I am experiencing HIV is frequently listed as a possibility.

Thanks so much for your consideration, you are truly more than a Wizard...you are an angel.

There's no place like home,

Dorothy in Kansas

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello, Dorothy (and your little dog too!!!).

"Wizard of Poz"; I like that!

Symptoms are notoriously unreliable in predicting who is or is not HIV infected. The reason to worry and/or get HIV tested for HIV is HIV-exposure risk. If you've had a potential HIV exposure (unprotected sex), you need HIV testing whether you have symptoms or not. You've had unprotected sex with two partners over the past nine months and consequently HIV testing is warranted three months or longer from the date of your last potential exposure.

That said, your symptoms are not suggestive of or worrisome for HIV acute retroviral syndrome (ARS). I agree with your plan to have your doctor evaluate your "strange health issues." While waiting for that appointment don't let "Dr. Google" worry you that HIV might be the likely culprit! Instead, why not pretend to be the Cowardly Lion after he found his courage and follow the Yellow Brick Road to get a rapid HIV test at your local STD clinic now? Results are available in just a few short minutes.

Good luck!

Dr. Bob



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