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muscle pains, malaise and a brazilian encounter

Mar 12, 1997

Dear Sir, although I've read the previous questions, I would like to add one more. The encounter: A Brazilian woman. Protected vaginal intercourse. Unprotected oral sex (less than a minute). Mutual masturbation, some cuts and sores on my fingers from manual labor. French kissing. The symptoms: Next week, sore throat and lasting for a few days. Then, a mildly productive bad cough for 3 weeks. After this, and even after a month, diffuse, mild pains in muscles, sensitive areas in skin (dysesthesias), mild general malaise and pain in finger joints. Some days are better than others. The result: A very anxious and worried, panicking individual. The questions: Is it common to have hiv-hypochondria that mimicks the symptoms, i.e. am I hysteric? Are these symptoms seen in primary hiv syndrome? Are Brazilians epidemiologically at greater risk than others? I know I have to get tested, and I suppose I will.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. Regarding the symptoms seen in recent HIV infection, see the message, "A MESSAGE FROM RICK SOWADSKY ABOUT SYMPTOM QUESTIONS" which goes into this issue in detail.

When a person is extremely worried about AIDS, it's not uncommon for that person to convince themselves they have the symptoms associated with the disease, when they may not have the symptoms at all. For example, I have personally seen several times when a person was very worried about getting swollen glands. They then tried to feel their lymph glands to see if they were swollen. They did this over and over and over again. Ironically, by feeling their lymph glands so many times, this actually made their lymph glands tender to the touch and somewhat swollen. It's easy to convince yourself that you're symptomatic, when you actually aren't. There is something called "psychosomatic symptoms/illness", where a person mentally convinces themselves they have symptoms, when they don't have symptoms at all. The only way to know what is the cause of your symptoms is to see your physician, and have the appropriate laboratory tests done. NOBODY CAN DIAGNOSE THEMSELVES BASED ON THEIR SYMPTOMS, NO MATTER WHAT THE SYMPTOMS ARE, AND NO MATTER WHAT DISEASE THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT.

The latest statistics I have for Brazil is as of 1 June, 1996. As of this date, there were 82,852 cases of AIDS diagnosed in this country. This does not include cases of people with HIV who do not yet have AIDS. I do not know how the rate of infection in Brazil compares to that of other South American countries, or the world overall. Many of the statistics in many countries are not very accurate, due to poor reporting in many countries, especially in Developing/Third World countries. So I can't say how accurate this statistic is, or how the rate of HIV/AIDS in Brazil compares to that of other countries.

As you said yourself, if you are concerned about infection with HIV, testing is the ONLY way for you to know whether you are infected or not.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).



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