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ARS Symptoms
Jul 12, 2000

Eight weeks ago I had a high risk exposure (sexual assault). Four weeks after the encounter I began to have cold sores in my mouth, and a sunburn-like feeling on my chest and back. I had a few red bumps also. After about a week of these symptoms I went to an infectious disease specialist. He performed an Elisa (neg) and Western Blot (neg) which I assumed would be negative at several weeks had I been infected. He also performed an HIV RNA PCR (results less than 400) and HIV DNA PCR which was negative. He explained that if my symptoms were related to ARS my HIV RNA PCR would have been very high. What is your opinion about my symptoms and the HIV RNA PCR being negative? I trust my physician very much, but I think I'm seeking reassurance. Since my first visit to him, this sunburn-like feeling (hypererythema) has slowly progressed to my entire body. And I still have a few red bumps along with this. I've had the sunburn-like rash for about 4 weeks now. He is now treating it with Minocin and Medrol. Thank you very much for your time and opinion.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Your physician was right: if your symptoms were in any way related to recent HIV infection, you would have had a significant amount of virus and antibodies to be detected on those tests. Your symptoms should not be related to HIV.

Sexual assault is a very serious issue which can have short and long term psychological effects on the victim. Sometimes anxiety and post-traumatic stress can manifest in physical symptoms, like a rash for instance. I recommend that you talk to someone about this sexual assault - -- a counselor, a rape crisis center, a hotline or maybe a support group. These services may help with your feelings of anxiety about HIV.



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