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The biggest mistake of my life
Nov 30, 2011

Within the last two months I had two unprotected vaginal encounters with a female who I last week found out is HIV positive. I'm embarrassed to say this, but I'm an HIV prevention counselor who's been working in this field for years, so you'd think I'd know better. But... I decided to get her tested last week 11/23 (about 14 days after our second encounter), because I started feeling a little sick. I didn't have any of the "common" symptoms reported of Accute infection, NO sore throat, no swollen glands, no rash, no high fever (body temp remained under 98 F), etc. But I mainly had what I can only describe as heat flushes on the surface of my skin; arms, legs, neck, ears (I felt like something was happening in my body). It was mostly painless, but very obvious, and it was pretty reoccurring for almost 2 weeks. The feeling has pretty much subsided now (19 days since our second encounter, and almost 40 days since our first encounter). I've occasionally felt a little flu-ish since, but nothing major. We both took an Ora Quick advanced HIV-1/2 antibody test. Hers started ok in the first 10 minutes, but after 15 mins a faint line appeared and remained, indicating a "reactive" result. My test remained negative. As you can imagine I was pissed at myself. I gave her a second test which also reacted with a faint line. Being that I work in this field, I know that 2 consecutive faint "reactive" Oraquick test are without a doubt HIV positive (unless there's something I don't know). So far she's told me that she didn't know she had HIV and hasnt tested in 2 years. My fear would be that she is newly infected, which translates into high viral load. Could that be the reason for the faint lines on the OraQuick? I'm afraid to take another test. I almost don't want to know. Of course I'm also trying to wait out the window period to at least 6 weeks to 3 months. But I'm still freaking out. My question is about the heat flushes, what is that? Is it common? I thought I was developing flu or a fever, but that never happened. Could this be the result of another STD, anxiety, neuropathy? Or has this been associated with acute hiv syndrome?

Response from Mr. Cordova

Hi there:

In regards to your sexual partner, has she been given a confirmatory test and referred into care? I'm sure that she has, but you don't mention it, so I am curious. If not, I am sure that you know the proper steps to take. You can also refer her to our Just Diagnosed section where she can find a wealth of information.

In regards to your testing, 90 days will give you the conclusive answer you are looking for. If your 90 day test is negative, I would advise a follow up test at 120 days, since you had a known exposure to HIV. I would also suggest a full STD screening to rule out any underlying infections that may be present.

As for your hot flashes, it's unclear what they are from. It could be anxiety, dietary changes, or something insignificant that is not worth worrying about. If the hot flashes continue, you may want to check with your doctor regarding possible causes.

In the future, you can protect yourself from HIV during penetrative sex, by using a condom each and every time.

In health, Richard



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