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Worried if am having ARS symptons
Aug 13, 2011

I am a generally low risk gay male. However, nearly 8 months ago now I was the insertive top with a partner of unknown status. There is guilt associated because this partner was paid for. The condom broke and I was in there briefly during this time. I have been in great health since. With the exception of bulimia which I relapsed into. About seven months later my binge and purge cycle escalated to a few times a day. I ended up developing a bad sore throat which is definitely attributable to the purging. I felt fine otherwise and was really active with working out. However, while I was running outside one night a few days later - still with a sore throat - I started a fever. I drank some cinnoman and black pepper for my throat and thought maybe it was due to that. It lasted less than 2 days (if that) but I also developed an ear ache and my right gland swelled up, was a tad painful and ended up turning hard. I assumed it was an infection. 4 weeks later the sore throat has since subsided but doesn't feel 100%. However, I've continued to have an ear ache and hard gland on the right side. Sometimes I feel it beginning to start on the left side but not sure if this is in my head. This went on for 3 weeks. I've felt great other than that however, the persistance of these symptons has had me worried. HIV was actually the last thing I considered... and I initially thought maybe cancer... but after reading and obsessing about the symptoms strange things have been happening. Firstly, I went on a road trip and didn't brush my teeth for a few days. Gross, I know.. but I developed a cankerish sore inside my mouth on the inside of my bottom lip. It went away in a day. Then during a long day moving furniture I 'febreezed' myself to cover the odor from sweat. It got on my arm. Later I noticed I had a cut and a rash there as well this went away in less than a day. This freaked me out because rash could also be HIV. At 4 weeks after this all began, I went to see a doctor and he said the glands felt fine, the throat looked fine, spleen looked fine. There was some inflammation in my right ear and he prescribed me amoxicillin. I tested negative for strep, and my blood test came back normal except I had slightly elevated in liver but he said this could very well be my normal reading... however something attributable to the liver I later read could be HIV. He said that I probably had some kind of viral infection and not to worry. He recommended ear drops. Two days later I had protected sex with a clean partner. I was the bottom and since I never do that got a tear. There was blood. However, since then I put lotion there without thinking and next thing you know my node in my left groin swelled and it was quite painful. It's still enlarged but no more pain. However, this has escalated my anxiety ten thousand fold. I've also now have convinced myself I am having muscle aches. For example, today when I was running it felt like I pulled my groin? My ear still is bothering me off and on but I feel great otherwise. Never have experienced fatigue, diareah, nausau or night sweats. I've had occassional headaches but it feels like only as an offshoot of my ear ache or from extreme stress. I think a lot of my symptons feel much worse when I think about this and I have been obsessing over every twitch in my body. I believe I am HIV + and feel such a sense of dread every time I think about it. I am so scared. I know that the safe, responsible thing to do is to get tested. However, is it unusual for symptoms of ars to start 7 months after infection? And do my symptoms sound like ARS or related to my bulimia (which this incident has cured me from)?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello.

The symptoms associated with HIV acute retroviral syndrome (ARS) manifest two to three weeks after exposure, not seven months later.

A broken condom during insertive anal sex with a rent-a-stud does put you at some degree of risk for STDs, including HIV. Consequently HIV testing at the three-month mark is warranted.

Your symptoms are not consistent with HIV.

Many of your symptoms could be related to anxiety. Your obsession with HIV could be a sign of depression, OCD or other psychological problem. Guilt may also be contributing to your HIV obsession and could be ratcheting up your level of anxiety.

I would advise you get a single HIV-antibody test at the three-month ark. You should also consult a licensed mental health professional to help with your anxiety, HIV paranoia and bulimia.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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