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Low Transmission Risk Activity, Possible ARS, Just Need Some Clarity

Jan 9, 2013

Thank you so much for your time, you are providing such a great educational resource on The Body!

I have extreme anxiety about getting HIV because I had a friend who became infected from a low risk activity (oral with cuts in mouth). I've been trying to put my mind at ease by reading through the site extensively but there are a few details I'm unsure of that would really help if I had answered.

I engaged in what I understand is a low risk of transmission sexual activity - mutual masturbation and frottage, which could have included some precum entering my vagina by rubbing close / at entrance mixing with my fluids or inside via fingering with possible minimal exposure to air. I do not know his current HIV status, but he's in the Marines and gets tested regularly. BUT I do know he has had a rather promiscuous sex life in the recent months before our encounter and is probably at a high risk of being very recently infected. I've read some material that said in the first month you have a much higher viral load, even in precum.

Yesterday and today (5 weeks later), I've had a low grade fever (never exceeding 100*) on and off for several days, including a sore throat on and off. I know both of these symptoms are possible ARS but without a test are inconclusive.

My questions: 1) Is 5 weeks still a window that ARS symptoms could occur? I know it is usually 2-4 weeks after exposure, but does just being a week later rule out the possibility of ARS or is there still a chance?

2) How likely is transmission from precum (obviously a small amount, but with possible high viral load with recent infection) entering via finger or rubbing with fluids outside the vagina with minimal exposure to air? I know it begins to die when outside the body... but it seems like it wouldn't have had much time to die before entering me. I don't know the logistics behind what makes it die.

3) What percentage of confidence would a normal HIV test and an antigen HIV test give me if I took them now at 5 weeks after possible exposure? I can't sleep so I figure I'll have it done tomorrow if I can, but can I assuredly rest easy with a negative result at this point in time?

Thank you so much for your answer in advance! This is a great cause to donate to everyone!

Response from Ms. Southall

Hi I hope that my answers can calm you down and lower your anxiety. The answers to your questions: 1. Symptoms after exposure can happen or not happen during the window period. This time frame can start at 3 weeks post exposure than any time during the the time the person is living with HIV. For instance, my experience was that I didn't experience any symptoms for 4 years and others that I have worked with or known were hospitalized in the first month. So everyone experiences the onset of symptoms can vary from person to person. 2. Fingering and frottage are considered very low risk. HIV does begin to die once it is outside of the body and is unable to infect. 3. The guidelines for testing are to be initially tested at 3 weeks then again at 90 days if no other exposures happen during the 90 days the results of the test are conclusive. At 5 weeks you are still in that window period and the test can be negative and you can still be positive because what the test is looking for is your body building antibodies against HIV.

My recommendation is that you continue on the course you are for testing, but I feel your risk of HIV transmission is very small.

Be well and stay safe, Shannon

Worry about HIV transmission - From East Timor
How bad was the exposure

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