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Late Stage HIV infection with OIs?
Jul 30, 2013

Hi there,

I'm a 25 year old woman living in the UK.

I am honestly at my wit's end and don't know what to do anymore. I have been feeling unwell since March- strange headaches, raised lymph nodes, sinus infections,yeast infections, visual disturbances, neuropathy, fatigue, muscle aches and mouth sores, however, HIV/AIDS has only registered as a possibility for the last month or so.

I have had two CBCs, which have both been completely normal (according to doctor) and I had a sexual health screening where I tested negative for all STDs, including HIV.

I have only ever had two boyfriends and was a veritable virgin until last year. I was with my first boyfriend for nearly five years but I am speaking the honest to god truth when I say we never had penetrative sex. I did have a pregnancy/STD scare at the beginning of the relationship (I was naive and pretty clueless on these subjects, as you can probably tell) and I have a feeling that he may not have been completely honest about his sexual history with me. However, he tested negative for lots of STDs (not specifically for HIV, might I add) and donated blood so being the ridiculously clueless and naive person I so clearly am, I didn't think to get tested myself and put the symptoms I'd been experiencing down to the fact that I wasn't 'used' to sexual contact. I'm now even beginning to think that he might have been lying about the blood donation- although I do remember seeing a letter from the blood donation service in his room.

I have been with my current boyfriend for nearly two years but he's a really innocent guy and I know for a fact he hasn't been with anybody before me (which makes all of this a hundred times worse). I'm also concerned as I've been living with my family for the past five years that I could have unwittingly been walking about with HIV and passed it on to them (embarrassingly enough, my mum often does my laundry and it is possible that she could have come in contact with menstrual blood, etc). I am actually going mad with guilt and think I can see symptoms in all of them. I have not been able to go to work because of this and I don't want to do anything, and still these symptoms persist...

Basically, I think I might be suffering from late-stage HIV infection (with possible opportunistic infections already present- candida and cytomegalovirus) and was wondering a couple of things...

1. I understand that 'seroreversion' is possible in late-stage HIV cases but regardless of symptoms, I'm still able to walk around and haven't lost all of my strength, neither have I lost a dramatic amount of weight. Is this a possibility? Or am I maybe dealing with some bizarre strain of the virus which doesn't show up on the test?

I imagine I will have to go back to the sexual health clinic at some point anyway but if I do, what should I ask them for? Would Western blot/CD4/viral load test be a better indicator if I did so happen to be advanced enough to be antibody-negative? (I believe the test I had was a combined antibody/antigen test).

2. If I was at this late stage, wouldn't something be showing up on the CBC? Like I said I've had two now, and both times the doctors have actually commented on how healthy my bloods would suggest I am! But if that's the case, why am I getting these infections? Would the fact that my white blood count is normal despite these indicate some kind of immune problem? Having read up a lot, I know CBCs aren't a good indicator as a general rule, but this really just completely flummoxes me...

I understand I must sound like a complete hypochondriac and that's how I'm being treated by all the health professionals I've seen but I genuinely feel that my concerns are real. I feel like I'm being brushed aside just because I'm not in a perceived 'high-risk' group.

Response from Ms. Southall

Hi I want to start first with the basics about HIV transmission. It occurs when there is a direct exchange of body fluid, blood, semen, vaginal fluid or mother to child through breast milk. Condoms are effective in the prevention of HIV transmission, as long as they are used correctly and do not break or slip off. Also if lubricant is used it must be water based. If you did not experience a direct exchange of body fluid you do not have HIV. If for any reason you are living with HIV, first just living in the same house does not pose a risk of HIV transmission. Casual contact, like doing laundry does not pose a risk. HIV once it leaves the body dies and becomes unable to infect. Everyone experiences living with HIV in a variety of different ways. From no symptoms to severe enough to be hospitalized. Yes if you have been living with HIV for a long period of time and not on treatment your blood work could start to change but just using a CBC to assess your risk is not appropriate. If you feel that you truly put yourself at risk for HIV transmission, through unprotected vaginal or anal sex or you shared needles at any time then my recommendation is to get tested. The testing guidelines are to be tested at 90 days post exposure and as long as there were no other exposures during this 90 day time period the results are conclusive.

I hope this answers your questions and feel free to ask for more information. Always feel free to browse our web site as it has a lot of GREAT information.

Be well and stay safe, Shannon



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