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SYMPTOMS -- WORRIED PERSON!
Jul 12, 2000

I am a male who had oral sex with a female while I had three canker sores in my mouth. Approximately 2 weeks after this contact I began to feel very fatigued and I would wake up in the middle of the night unable to sleep. I have had very bad headaches and what I felt to be swollen lymph nodes in my shoulders to the back of neck and the headaches would produce very localized pain in sections of my head (not the typical headache). I have also had no appetite for the past 2 weeks although I have been starting to feel better. 1) Is my risk with canker sores higher? 2) The doctor said that she only felt muscle in my neck which was hard, not lymph nodes although I know that I have had stiffness and sore sides of my throat, your thought? 3) She did a blood test on me and said that I do not have anemia or mono and that my blood count (red and white) or totally normal. Does the normal blood count during illness mean anything? 4) Does this sound like a cause to worry? LET ME KNOW!! I AM DESPERATE!!

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Dear Symptoms-Worried Sir,

While unprotected oral sex is not a non-risk for HIV, sores in the mouth can increase the risk that fluids taken in orally could reach the blood stream. However, for HIV transmission to occur, your partner would have to be HIV infected; do you know if this is the case? The only way to know definitely if you have seroconverted is to take an HIV test. You consulted your doctor, always a good idea when a medical concern is weighing heavily on one's mind, who doesn't seem to feel you have much reason for concern.

Was this really your only risk? Could guilt, shame or regret be the real culprit here, as is so often the case when we seem overly worried about a low-risk exposure? The mind can torment us without a shred of fact to back it up. It can even manifest physical symptoms that mimic a known disease. Luckily, worry alone cannot create HIV. After you test HIV negative (my hunch), you might want to make safer sex choices in the future, knowing how worrisome uncertainty can be for you.



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