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I Need Some Advice and Have Noone to Talk To.
Apr 4, 2013

Hi there

My last HIV test was around 20 months ago, and it was non-reactive. Since then, I have limited my sexual activity to oral sex as I believed this was for the most part safe sex. I am a 45-year-old gay male and in the almost -two-years since my last test, I gave 10 unprotected blowjobs to 7 different men. I never took ejaculate in my mouth, but - of course - there may have been precum. These encounters were casual with people I had just met or did not know well. Each said they were disease-free, but Other than their word I have no other indications of their status. I have had dental work done due to breaking a tooth, but did not give any blowjobs any time close to any dental work being done my general oral hygiene i would say is not the best but also not the worst I have also had one of these men perform anal-oral sex on me on several occasions.

Since the end of last year, I have been depressed and severely fatigued. I also have felt a tightness in my neck, the back of my head, my armpits and groin area which comes and goes. More recently, I had a ring-like rash on the side of the trunk of my body which seems to have cleared up with about 4 weeks of treatment with an anti-fungal cream. Sometimes my knuckles on both hands are very dry, red and itchy and I wonder if it's a fungal infection. I also seem to be more prone to acne on my chin and around my mouth, especially when I shave.

My questions are:

1. What kind of STD testing is warranted, and what diseases do my behaviors put me at most risk for? I'm very worried about HIV, of course. Does the number of partners I've had turn the low risk of HIV infection through oral sex into a high risk?

2. I'm scared to get tested, and I have no support where I live to discuss this with or to help me. I live far from my family and have no friends who would understand my concerns. I have checked the websites of the county health department and the HIV/AIDS organization in my area and they don't seem to offer any kind of support for someone who needs help getting to the point of where I can test and deal with the results. What do you advise someone in my situation to do to get to the point where he/she is not too scared to test and is prepared to deal with a possible diagnosis? Do you know if there is usually counseling available to help with this, or is this sort of a ridiculous idea?

3 - what do you think the urgency of testing is for me? Is it likely that the symptoms I've outlined would present within the first two years after infection? I ask about the urgency because I've recently been laid off at work, and need to work for 8 more weeks in order to qualify for my severance package which includes a payment and extended health insurance coverage. I'm afraid if I were to test positive I may not be able to successfully finish these last months of work.

Thanks so much for reading this. I value the insight of each of you who responds to these questions, and I hope to get your perspective. I know it's ultimately up to me to take the initiative and move forward, but I'm feeling very isolated and alone and just think an expert's wisdom would be very helpful.

Thanks again.

Response from Mr. Cordova

Hi there:

Thanks for writing in. I will answer your questions individually BUT you should know that I do not think you put yourself at risk for HIV. Oral sex is a low-risk activity, since you avoided oral sex while you were having dental work done that tells me that you know how to keep yourself safe when performing oral sex.

1. I do not think you need to be tested for anything in particular. I do suggest that anyone who is sexually active be tested for all STD's at least once a year, and preferably every six months. The number of encounters you have had is not increasing your risk. If you had orally pleasured 10,000 men in the past year that might be a different story. Until then, don't worry about it.

2. Again, please understand that I do not think you put yourself at a high risk for infection. I can understand being scared to test. I would suggest staying focused on your actual risk VS the possibility of testing positive. Your risk is actually very low. If you can stay focused on the fact that infection is unlikely, that may help. If talking to someone would help, I would suggest calling the State of Illinois AIDS/HIV & STD hotline at 1-800-243-2437. Their trained hotline counselors can help talk you through the process of going in for a test.

3. I don't think you even need to test for these incidences in particular, so that being said, there is no urgency. Your symptoms have nothing to do with HIV.

I hope this helps.

In health,

Richard



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