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Early Signs The Body: Rick Sowadsky M.S.P.H., C.D.S, Answers to Safe Sex Questions
Jan 28, 1997

Is it possible for symptoms to be extremely mild and only lasst for two days? Another question is what does the rash associated look and feel like? Is it red with bumps? I heard it to be transient but am not quite sure what that means. Does the CDC recommend getting tested after protective vaginal intercourse using a latex condom? Thanks for your time! :)

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

The length of time that symptoms persist, and the severity of the symptoms, vary from person to person. They can last for just 2 days, but are more likely to last a week or two. The word "Transient" means to last a very short time. A discussion about the symptoms associated with recent HIV infection, and how long they usually last, can be found under the question, "Symptomatic Stage".

In regards to the rash seen with recent HIV infection, there is no such thing as an "HIV/AIDS rash" per se. Rashes in persons with HIV can be due to numerous causes. When a rash is seen in persons with recent HIV infection, it is primarily found in the upper portion of the body. The rash may or may not itch, and it can be raised. Not everyone with recent HIV infection will develop a rash. If a rash is seen at all, it resembles rashes seen from many other skin conditions. The severity and appearance of rashes (if they appear at all) can vary significantly from person to person. In addition, persons with full blown AIDS may have various skin problems from various causes anywhere on the body. Because rashes seen in persons with HIV/AIDS looks exactly like rashes due to other skin conditions, nobody can tell you whether a persons rash is related to HIV/AIDS or not, based on symptoms alone. Only HIV testing can determine if a persons symptoms may be HIV related or not.

If a person has protected intercourse, and the condom does not break, leak, or fall off, there is no need for testing. This is because condoms, used consistently and correctly, will significantly reduce the risk of HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's). However, if condoms are not used every time, are not used correctly, or if they break, leak or fall off, then testing for HIV and other STD's is recommended.

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



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