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FEELING SUICIDAL
Aug 4, 2001

Ryan, i know you receive loads of messages like this one, & i understand you cannot reply to all, but i really need an answer.

following a relatively low risk exposure (oral sex) six weeks ago i became fairly concerned about hiv. i had a persistant sore throat, so i went for a test after one month which was -ve. My tongue then went white all over, next my mouth became extremely dry and i also got a few small ulcers. i also had one case of diarrhea. my leg and arm muscles have gone weak (trembling feeling) on a couple of separate days. no noticeable fever though.

the doctor i saw told me to just come back in 2 months for a follow up hiv test without examining me or talking to me any further. i really don't know where else to turn.

Questions:

1. Could this be ARS? Does it sound likely?

2. Could stress cause all the above?

3. Can something not be done before the two months are up? The fear is killing me. (I live in the uk.)

As a final note, i am disapointed on the lack of reliable info re. receiving oral sex. No one can give a definite answer! Surely there must be loads of couples out there (where one is hiv+) whom only practise oral sex - why can't someone study these people?! (sorry, just venting some emotions)

Your answers would truly be appreciated.

Response from Mr. Kull

1) It is really difficult to tell you if your symptoms are attributed to ARS. In order for anyone to even suspect ARS, some important questions need to be answered, like:

a) What EXACTLY was your exposure? Among oral sex behavior, performing oral sex on a man, especially with ejaculation in the mouth, seems to carry the most risk for infection. Receiving oral sex does not seem to lead to HIV infection. Infection through performing oral sex on a woman appears to be extremely rare.

b) What is the HIV status of your partner? Do you know if he or she is infected? Do you know what their risk for infection is? Knowing that someone is infected or at high-risk (men who have sex with men, injection drug users, or people who have unprotected sex with people in a high-incidence region) will affect the assessment of your symptoms.

Only with these questions answered can an assessment be made. Maybe your doctor already did this.

2) Stress could lead to many different physical symptoms, like gastrointestinal problems. People who visit this forum frequently tell stories of being convinced that they were infected, only to realize after having a negative HIV antibody test that there symptoms were probably related to stress.

3) An antibody test at three months is probably your best bet. If you feel that you are at significant risk for infection (for instance, receptive oral sex with an HIV positive man with ejaculation in the mouth), then this decision should be made in conjunction with your doctor. Having a negative antibody test at one month is a good sign, but not completely accurate.

Fear cannot kill you, but it can make your life very difficult. If you really believe that you are at risk for attempting suicide, speak to a psychiatrist if you can or go to an emergency room immediately.

RMK



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