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HIV Or Smoking Withdrawal Symptoms ?

Oct 5, 2017

Hi Damon,

I am a 29 yr old guy from India. I had an exposure on Aug 9th with a Indian CSW which was a protected vaginal sex and unprotected oral sex. I was drunk a bit but felt guilty and stopped in between and came out of the place. Because of guilt , I stopped smoking from that day. ( I used to smoke around 6 cigs a day for a period of 4 yrs). After 2 weeks I developed yellow phlegm which was cleared in 2 weeks but meanwhile, I was going through great stress and guilt and after a month I have developed oral thrush and shortness of breath. I sometimes feel feverish and have dry cough. I was googling a lot about hiv symptoms and has added more to my stress. I am in a country where I cannot take a hiv test as if tested positive I will be deported back to India. Please advise. The guilt of cheating is now more than the fear of HIV.

Response from Mr. Jacobs

Hi there,

I'm sorry that a sexual experience has resulted in so much guilt and fear. Although I can't change the circumstances that are preventing from you getting confirmation you did not acquire HIV from this encounter, I can review with you the science about your situation.

Based on what you are sharing, there is pretty much no way you could get HIV from this encounter. You are saying that the vaginal part of sex was protected. So as the insertive partner, you've pretty much eliminated all risk there. Then, you stated that you had unprotected oral sex. Now, assuming that you mean that you were the giving partner, and she was receiving, there is still essentially zero risk from this activity. It is nearly impossible to acquire HIV from oral sex. And on the rare occasions it is believed to have been transmitted, the risk took place with giving oral to a person with a penis, not a person with a vagina (https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/oralsex.html).

The other thing you have not disclosed is the HIV status of your partner. Just because she is a CSW does not mean she is HIV positive and detectable. As a matter of fact, there are areas where CSWs are more frequently tested and treated for HIV and STIs than the general population, and therefore put you at less risk.

As you pointed out, the yellow phlegm could be a result of quitting smoking. Six cigarettes a day for four years is less than smoking a pack every day, but still can build up in the lungs and throat. It is not uncommon for people to experience discomfort and congestion when they first quit.

As far as the other symptoms, my sense is that you called it when you wrote, "The guilt of cheating is now more than the fear of HIV." This is a very wise and universal statement that describes many of the letters and requests I receive here at The Body.com. Guilt is extremely powerful, and can wreak havoc on bodies and immune systems. This was the only point in your letter you mentioned 'cheating' or indicated having a primary partner. If you are feeling bad or wrong about your encounter with the CSW, then that could explain a lot of the physical symptoms your body has been creating.

Of course the only way to confirm your HIV status is to get tested, which you have ruled out because of your current location. Although I don't know where you are, I can tell you that the World Health Organization (WHO) has widely distributed guidelines for HIV testing internationally which include, "Consent, Confidentiality, Counseling, Correct test results, Connection/linkage to prevention, care and treatment." (http://www.who.int/hiv/events/2012/world_aids_day/hiv_testing_counselling/en/).

But based on the events you described here, there simply was no opportunity I can see for HIV transmission to occur. I hope this information allows you to understand the scientific reality of your current situation and make informed and confident decisions about sharing your body going forward.



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