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Is it high-risk or low-risk?

Oct 27, 2018

Hello. 13 days ago I had a sexual intercourse with a sex worker lady. During this sex my penis stayed in her vagina about 5-10 seconds then I started to use condom. 36 hours later I felt something like influenza (cough, sneeze, low fever etc.) at my body. 4 days later after this intercourse I started to feel numbness at the full right side of my body (at my hands, arms and legs). In last 1 week I have been feeling some surfing & hopping small pains at my joints. As you may imagine my psychology is terrible and my brain is convinced that I have infected by HIV. Based on these defined symptoms how would you evaluate the risk to be infected with HIV for me? Thanks for your kind answer & support in advance. Regards. Hakan

Response from Mr. Jacobs

Hi Hakan - Thank you for writing in.

Based on the events you describe, your risk would be extremely low to zero. Here's why:

(1) You were the insertive partner with a condom except for the first 5-10 seconds. Even if no condom was used the whole time, your HIV risk as the insertive partner from one encounter is less than 1%, and even less if you are circumcised (https://www.poz.com/article/HIV-risk-25382-5829).

(2) Some, but not all, people who acquire HIV report flu-like symptoms. But medically speaking those symptoms begin appearing 2-4 weeks after transmission, not 36 hours (http://www.thebody.com/content/art54495.html). Numbness would not be one of the symptoms commonly associated with new HIV acquisition.

(3) In some parts of the world, people are LESS likely to be exposed to HIV through sex work than more likely. That is because sex workers are often tested/treated for STIs more frequently than non-sex workers. And when medically diagnosed, would take treatment medications for HIV which would make them unable to transmit HIV sexually after six months (or perhaps sooner).

It seems like you (and many others) are so traumatized by the fear of getting HIV that you reflect on every intimate sexual experience as a possible life-sentence. The truth is, HIV is actually a VERY difficult virus to transmit. And, people diagnosed with HIV today are generally able to live long and healthy lives. Once they are undetectable for six months or longer they cannot transmit HIV to others. And, the life expectancy for someone diagnosed with HIV today is not significantly less than someone who is not living with HIV (http://www.thebody.com/content/79937/life-expectancy-for-people-with-hiv-nearly-matches.html).

None of this is likely going to come as much as peace of mind, however, until you see a medical professional. It is important for you (and for any sexually active person) to get tested for HIV on a regular basis so you don't have speculate about every physical symptom that arises. And, it is very important you talk to a healthcare professional in person about the symptoms you are describing. They might just be anxiety and worry but could also be indicative of a different medical issue that needs your attention. Only a medical person will be able to accurately recommend your next steps.

So: Risk of HIV? No. Risk of anxiety or another medical condition? Please see a healthcare provider as soon as possible. Take good care!



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