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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Feb 6, 2001

Dear Dr. Henry, I am very concerned. 20 weeks ago, I was sexually assaulted in the Virgin Islands. The assailant was not apprehended so I live in fear of having contracted HIV. Developed symptoms consistent with ARS at week 4 (sore throat, stiff neck, headache, painful but not swollen lymph nodes.) These symptoms have persisted on and off for the past 20 weeks, specifically the sore throat and painful lymph nodes in armpit area. Have also experienced some burning and tingling in legs, which seemed to diminish with exercise. Developed a facial rash at 12 weeks, diagnosed with rosacea by one dermatologist and allergic reaction by another. Sore throat recently diagnosed as reflux disease, being treated with Prilosec. Have been tested for HIV-1 by Elisa at 5.5 weeks, 9.5 weeks, & 15.5 weeks. PCR RNA at 18 weeks < 400. Other symptoms early on were painful vagina irritation 10 days after exposure, treated with Crinone - went away but lasted almost two months. At approx. 14 weeks - developed burning sensation on head that lasted for about a week - no sores detected - seems to be nerve-related, but no one can figure it out. I am at my wits end. I still believe I have the dreaded HIV but my doctors insist that I don't. What other tests or other doctors should I see. Also, should I be concerned about Hepatitis and/or HTLV? I am so scared. The anxiety and fear is overwhelming. PLEASE ANSWER ME!! I am generally in good health. Two sets of CBC - all normal. Tested for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and STD's - all negative. Does a Elisa negative at 15.5 weeks, and PCR RNA at 20 weeks < 400 mean I am in the clear? Of course, I will have another Elisa at 6 months just to be safe, but my doctors tell me to get on with my life!! What should I do. Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to be complete.

Response from Dr. Henry

From the HIV perspective it is extremely unlikely that your symptoms are HIV related. Occult herpes infection, CMV, or other viruses rarely would cause those symptoms. Severe stress can contribute also. I concur that HIV has been ruled out. If nothing else turns up you should get some counseling and other therapy to help you cope with your ordeal. Good luck. KH

Treatment Cost... - KH
Where do I go from here? Very worried! - KH

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