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Anxious about HIV, could I have been at risk?
Sep 30, 2013

Dear Mr. Glenn,

The past half year (it was a stressy period, with graduation from college) or so I've had HIV anxiety.

I had about 12-ish sexual partners in my life (msm), but never had any receptive or insertive anal sex. Some suggested and/or attempted anal sex, but I was never interested and it didn't get anywhere. I only gave oral sex to five partners, all of which didn't last long (I'm not fond of it) and with no ejaculation. I did receive oral sex in most of these encounters. Twice I received anilingus. And I was fingered once. Twice I did some rubbing, with no penetration again.

During the flu season (last winter, so about 6 months ago) I got the flu, which was bad but over after a few days (this is where the HIV anxiety started; when looking for tips to get over the flu I stumbled upon an HIV checklist). I did get recently diagnosed with chronic pharyngitis (lasting for about 4 months now) after visiting an ENT specialist, who said I was dealing well with it (my tonsils are fine and only the pharynx is somewhat inflammed, likely due to post nasal drip), and prescribed a betadine mouth wash and a nasal steroid. Some red spots did newly appear on the roof of the mouth and I will go check that with the doctor again (I doubt this has to do with any sexual encounter, as I didn't have any in two months before this appearing). I'll ask for a mouth culture (there is no pain whatsoever, only mild discomfort).

Otherwhise I'm healthy and energetic, with only a case of mild athlete's foot and nail fungus which I verifiably got from a roommate even before I ever had any sexual encounter. After three years of attempting to treat it without medication by keeping it clean I got prescribed lamisil.

I occasionally get a pimply allergic reaction to the Sun and/or sea water at Summer; this Summer it was no different and it disappeared after few days of treating with a topical creme (isotrex), prescribed and checked by a dermatologist.

I know the safest is to simply get tested, but my anxiety over the prospect is making that extremely scary. I still know that it's possible to get other std's from the contacts I had and I should get tested for those, but I'm wondering what is my risk for HIV infection?

Also, I suggested using a condom for oral sex, but all partners I even mentioned this to seemed visibly appalled, what is the real risk of oral sex for HIV transmission. I've been researching this for a while, but the reports are conflicting.

Thanks a lot for your answer.

Response from Mr. Glenn

Your risk for HIV was minimal to begin with (oral sex is very low risk for HIV).

Getting tested would be a good way to know your status for sure, but I understand that you're worried.

Your worry is obvious in how you've catalogued every little change in how your body has felt. This is making me think that a focus on all this is more about your stress/anxiety/worry as opposed to any significant risk.

Maybe a good move at this point would be to talk to a mental health professional who can help you to better manage your stress/anxiety/worry. Then eventually you'll get to a point where taking the test is less scary and accepting how little your risk was will be easier.

Hope this helps,

Erik



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