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5-day headache
Jan 3, 2013

Hi, I had a question about a possible HIV infection.

I trust this website as the most authoritative source I know for HIV-related questions. I wanted to ask about the symptoms of Acute HIV Syndrome (the one that happens 2-4 weeks after exposure). I have read that it happens in about 70% of the cases, and that there is about 96% chance of a fever and about 30% chance of a fever. Other classical symptoms are fatigue, nausea, muscle aches, diarrhea, a rash and enlarged lymph nodes.

I had sex with a man in a club when abroad. It involved us performing oral sex on each other and then I penetrated him with a condom. I was later told by an HIV physician that a condom doesn't "develop tiny holes" when it breaks, when it breaks it breaks very noticeably, with a large tear. Therefore, I believe the condom stayed on. The man, however, told me that he's a sex addict and, although he generally has safe sex, there have been times when he's made exceptions. This gave me reason to believe that he might have been HIV+. I didn't use lubricant, I didn't have any. I know that condoms tend to break when it's not used. I have been told, however, that condoms nowadays are made strong enough not to break, even if lubricant is not used. Especially the ones distributed in gay clubs. Is this true?

Between 2-3 weeks after the incident, I developed a strange headache, which came and went, particularly while I was at lessons at the university (the hard beginning of a hard semester in a new language, which meant a particular amount of strain). It was a sort of nagging, numb headache, not acute, and generally was worse while during lessons or in front of the computer. It lasted for between 4-5 days, easing off and coming back. I have reason to believe it was caused by computer radiation, for on the fifth day, after having been away from my computer, it went away after a few hours and didn't come back. I adjusted the light level in my computer and this seems to have done the trick.

I didn't have a fever or any other symptoms.

I know that symptoms related to Acute HIV Syndrome are said to generally last two weeks (at least 7-10 days), so this eases my mind somewhat. However, I'm the sort of person who never gets sick, I never get a flu. I'm 30 and throughout my life I have only gotten a fever at age 8, then for a couple of days two years ago. I just never get the flu. And I've never, up to this day, had a headache strong enough to consider it a real headache, certainly not for more than a few hours, let alone a full day. Therefore, this happening really shocked me. I got a headache like this, albeit only for one day, a week after the incident (which as a symptom for Acute HIV Syndrome is yet too soon), so this gives me hope. It didn't last for several days, however.

I have experienced HIV anxiety very strongly throughout the years, particularly at the beginning of my 20s. I've come to learn to protect myself always by using a condom always, consistently, by not brushing my teeth for some hours before or after oral sex or when I have any kind of sores in my mouth (I get mouth sores from non-venereal herpes every once in a while), by never having sex while under the influence and by very rarely allowing a man to cum into my mouth.

I'm very frightened about this incident. As I said, I fear that these headaches might be an irrefutable indicator that I have become infected. I wish to take the test, but am too afraid to. As you seem to be the only website that gives a straight, authoritative answer and that has experts with enough experience with HIV to be able to substantiate their answers, I wished to write you for the first time since I've known I'm gay. I know that statistically, sex with an HIV+ unprotected as a penetrative partner carries 1/500 per episode risk of HIV transmission on average. With a condom it's much less. I never get headaches, so it gave me a reason to worry. I tried to find an answer within your forum related to headaches and the length of symptoms, but I didn't find one that addressed my issue directly. Please help me.

All the best,

Anonymous

Response from Ms. Southall

Hi Thanks for your question and I'm glad you feel we can give you good answers to your questions.

First, oral sex carries the lowest risk of HIV transmission and you had protected sex which rocks and dramatically reduces your risk of HIV transmission. You also be the penetrating partner carries a lower risk than being the receptive partner.

The testing guidelines are to be initially tested at 3 weeks and then again at 90 days if this test is negative then so are you.

And lastly the headaches, not sure where they are coming from, if they continue I would follow up with your health care provider for evaluations, but as far as your concerns for HIV transmission the experience you had carried a very low risk.

Be well and stay safe ,Shannon



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