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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,


Licked red spots on frozen food package
sharing lube between two men

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