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Oct 6, 2001

Hello! Firstly I must thank you for answering my question. I am at present just passed my 3 month window period with my possible exposure on the 6th of July 2001. I had test numerous times using different test during this 3 month window period which include 2 ELISA tests and 8 rapid test using Abott Laboratories DETERMINE, with the last rapid test done this Wednesday, all came back negative.

My casual partner had also tested for HIV using 2 set of ELISA and rapid test with the first set of ELISA and rapid test done on 17 weeks pass her exposure with another guy and the last one on 22 1/2 weeks, all came back negative. I had also seen several doctors regarding some bodily symtoms but they all reply saying there are no swollen lymph nodes or it is common to have these symtoms.

By right, I should be relieved, but the only thing that bother me now is I keep getting hives which are bumpy rashes on my arms and thighs which itch and patchy red rashes that appear on my trunk. These 2 kinds of rashes mostly appear after I bath, especially in hot water, but can appear occasionally by itself. I have seen a doctor about the patchy red rash but they found no reason to it. These rashes will also go off if I take antihistamine like Zyrtec. These rashes have been with me for I think about 1 1/2 months. These rashes really gave me the anxiety about contracting HIV and the fear that I might have infected my girlfriend. So far I don't have fever or visible swollen lymph nodes.

My exposure with the casual girl is just 2 occasioans of recieving oral sex and normal french kiss. On the first occasion it is just unprotected oral sex with me receiving oral sex from her. On the second occasion it is just brief starting of unprotected oral sex performed by the girl on me and after that I wore a condom and french kiss.

Please tell me what is going on with my body, why am I getting all these rashes? Sometimes the moment I see those rashes I feel like killing myself because I could not get any answer to those rashes. I live in Singapore, could I have contracted a rare strain which could not be detected by current antibody tests? In fact, I think further test will not help make me think I am negative because I keep getting those rashes. Now it seems that the only possibility to answer to my rashes is I have contracted a rare strain.

Please help me! The thought is controlling my life! Do I need to go for further test? I am truly negative?

Response from Ms. Breuer

While I am not a physician, I do have experience with a variety of rashes, and know that often they are caused by stress. You write, "These rashes really gave me the anxiety about contracting HIV..." The truth may be the reverse. The anxiety about contracting HIV may be giving you the rashes.

You have every indication that you are uninfected. You can reduce your stress--and probably your rashes--by having a conversation or two with a qualified counselor who can help you to manage the anxiety. Please try it. Okay? It appears that you are paying a high emotional price for a casual relationship. Perhaps you could consider eliminating casual relationships and putting your energy into the relationship that seems to have a future. That could be just one way to greatly reduce your stress.

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