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Am I Being Irrational? Please Help

May 22, 2014

I have been racked with severe guilt and anxiety over several sexual episodes from the past year or so). I have had no symptoms, other than a bout of diarreah for about a week, but I feel this was caused due to excessive alcohol consumption, anxiety about HIV and stress from work. I have a slight white layer on my tongue but my mother has the same and this is something I have noticed since I was young (before any sexual encounter) so I am not concerned about this. Sexual encounters are as follows (I am a 24 year old heterosexual male):

1. Vaginal sexual intercourse with female partner (postgraduate University student) whose status I did not know- mostly protected, though unprotected for a period of 30 seconds to 1 minute.

2. Protected receptive oral sex from female prostitute in Germany, and unprotected stimulation of my penis with her hand briefly (HIV-status unknown). (No visible blood or fluid- I understand risk of contracting through receptive oral sex even w/out condom is extremely low which has reassured me somewhat).

3. Unprotected vaginal intercourse with female partner whose status is unknown- lasted for about 5 (five) seconds.

4. Performed oral sex on, and received oral sex from, female partner (postgraduate University student, again) in South America- HIV status unknown.

5. With my hand (and no other part of my body) briefly touched bare, circumcised tip of penis of male in bathhouse in northern UK for period of 5-7 seconds (I left after, and this was the only contact that occurred). I had no cuts on hand. This was the only sexual 'encounter' that I have ever had with a male.

6. Protected receptive oral sex and protected vaginal intercourse with female prostitute in UK (vaginal intercourse lasted 2-3 seconds before I withdrew).

7. Protected vaginal intercourse with same female partner multiple times for a period of 11-12 months (up until recently) whose status was unknown, though I am in regular contact with this person today and am friends with her at the moment.

I have read about the practically normal life expectancy of HIV-positive men and women who are treated effectively and living healthy lifestyles, and find this to be very reassuring. Yet I also find myself racked by deep anxiety about being HIV-positive. I am generally a very anxious person, and HIV anxiety seems to be a reoccurring trend in my life. I was racked by such severe HIV anxiety when I was younger (before I had any sexual encounters, purely based on worries like masturbating after shaking hands with someone I did not know) that I actually contemplated suicide. I know myself that I deeply indulge my irrational anxieties in other aspects of life too. I have considered testing for HIV, but am irrationally troubled by the prospect of it, and have nobody to turn to and assist me emotionally in getting tested. I am wondering if you think it is worth me getting tested based on my history of sexual encounters. I am not sure what the greater concern is: the risk of HIV itself, or my own HIV anxiety. Thank you very much, and I just want to add that this site has been so helpful in relieving my anxiety, and finding sensible and comprehensive advice from professional experts, with no stigma or judgement attached.

Response from Mr. Cordova

Hi there,

Overall your risk level for these incidences is pretty low. Even on the incidences with unprotected penetration, they were brief and limited in nature.

If you feel the need, a 90 day test from the last unprotected incident will give you a conclusive result. I am confident it will be negative.

In health,


Possible HIV/STD encounter
need test

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