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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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oral sex
Oct 1, 2006

Hi, I am a 19 year old female, who is suffering from swollen glands in the neck and mostly under the chin area, especially on the right side of my neck. I also have a very painful swelling in both cheeks(feels like a lymph node). It started out with pain in the tonsillar region of my neck, that could be felt upon palpation (I dismissed it as a sore throat, since I have previous and ongoing sinusitis). It then spread to the left-side of my neck in the same area. The glands on the left side of my neck seem hardened-cartilage like. Approximately two weeks after, I got an flu-like attack and then my glands became very painful & swollen. They improved after I got over the cold, but they are still persistent, even now (three weeks after). The pain in my neck feels like I have a 'stiff neck'. Sometimes the pain radiates to my scapula and to the back of the shoulder. I sometimes have a 'pinched nerve' feeling, mostly on the right side. I got a throat culture done and the results were negative for strep. I have watery mucus draining from my nose all the time. Sometimes I even get a headache. About six months ago I was placed on Amoxicillin because my ENT saw some swollen lymph glands in my throat. I have also been having unexplain heart issues. (my cardiologist is currently looking into any possible causes). I am worried that I might have contracted HIV for a guy I had oral contact with, just two week prior to my first symptom. I barely had oral contact with his genitals, it only lasted for some seconds. However we were kissing and his skin was really sweaty. Can you contract HIV from sweat? I am terrified to get tested. What should I do?

Response from Dr. Conway

There have NEVER been any cases reported where HIV was transmitted through sweat. HIV can be transmitted by oral sex, although this is extremely uncommon, and almost always follows much more prolonged and intimate contact than you describe. I am not sure about your heart issues, but you describe a prior history of ENT problems and sinusitis. It strikes me as much more likely that your symptoms are linked to these issues rather than an illness such as HIV. THis being said, I would strongly recommend that, if you are sexually active, you find out your HIV status to allow you to make informed decisions about your sexual behaviors. In addition to this, BE SAFE OUT THERE...HIV and and especially other sexual infections can be caught far too easily by those who aren't.

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