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Oral Sex HIV testing
Nov 14, 2001

Dear Doctor Kull,

I have tried not sending you any questions because all of my qustions have been answered by reading what you have put out on the risks of being infected as a reciever of oral sex. Since there is a very small risk of being infected it still doesn't change the worrying of being infected. As a matter of fact I know I am being harder on myself and causing my mind more problems than need be. Yet the question I do have for you is this.

I did have two encounters of being a reciever of oral sex by two different woman. One here is the U.S. and the other in Burundi Africa. A month before I left to Burundi I had a HIV test done for an insurance policy and it came back ok. However, shortly after I came back from Africa about two weeks I started having a lot of problems with pain in my muscules and joints along with a small cough, runny nose with stinging in my nose, and low fever. I have been to the doctor many times over the last the couple of months and and they can't find what is wrong. I have been waiting to get to the three month mark to test for HIV. Well this be good enough based on my only exposure being two oral sex encounters?? Do I need to test again after than??

Response from Mr. Kull

There is no evidence that HIV transmission occurs when a person receives oral sex (has an HIV infected person's mouth on their genitals). Sexual transmission of HIV is known to occur during anal and vaginal sex, and less frequently to the person who performs oral sex (who puts their mouth on an infected person's genitals).

If the risk of transmission is theoretical only, it doesn't matter from whom you receive oral sex. The odds for infection are negligible. Since there is no evidence that supports your concern about being HIV infected, we should probably address your worries from another angle.

You are experiencing anxiety about the unknown. Everybody experiences this sort of anxiety at some point in their life. The severity and frequency of bouts of anxiety can vary greatly from person to person. When your anxiety begins to interfere with your life, work, relationships, and general day-to-day functioning (like spending excessive amounts of time researching HIV on the internet), you should talk to someone about anxiety and anxiety disorders. This may or may not apply to you, but is worth thinking about.

People who have anxiety disorders often benefit from psychotherapy, medications and cognitive-behavioral treatment (a way of modifying certain thoughts and behaviors). Medication and psychotherapy in combination seem to work best for anxiety disorders. A mental health professional could best help you understand your anxiety.

Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in the U.S. Many people feel ashamed about seeking treatment.

Visit the National Institute of Mental Health's page on Anxiety Disorders (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/anxiety/anxietymenu.cfm) to learn more about anxiety, anxiety disorders, and how to seek out further help if you think you would benefit from it.

RMK



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