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HIV Transmission and Education >> Am I Infected?

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KitG
Expert

Reged: 01/15/01
Posts: 103
For the "not sure" guy (3/31/01 00:55 AM)
      #17160 - 04/02/01 10:14 AM

I can relate to your frustration, because I've been in a similar place a while back.

Presumably, you've tested negative out to some agreed cut-off point, three months, six months, whatever.

Basically, while nothing in life is 100% certain (oops, sorry!), I think it basically comes down to using a balance of probabilities to make one of two "decisions", based on available evidence which I offer to the best of my ability below:

Decision 1

You are infected with HIV, despite negative antibody test

Evidence

a. exposure (high/low risk - there's another one for you, what exactly lowers or heightens risk? So many variables)

b. ongoing symptoms, for which you have no acceptable explanation

c. negative tests for other things (funny, we never question other negative tests to the extent we do for HIV, a point Jackie made aeons ago)

d. late seroconversions have happened before



Decision 2

You are NOT infected with HIV, despite ongoing symptoms

Evidence

a. negative 3rd gen(?) ELISA antibody test/tests, the "Gold Standard" of HIV testing, and claimed to be one of the most accurate diagnostic tools in medicine

b. the HIV professionals are satisfied that you are not infected (I'm presuming you've been seen and examined by someone)

c. depending on who/what/where you are of course, but the vast majority of people having sex aren't HIV+

d. the vast majority of HIV+ people are extremely careful about avoiding passing it on

e. HIV is difficult to contract, as viruses go

f. lots of people are experiencing ongoing symptoms similar to yours, but because they have had no HIV exposure risk and are not infected, they quite rightly never even consider the HIV scenario

g. for the past fifteen years or so, lots of people who HAVE had an HIV exposure risk (whether HIV is actually present or not) have experienced ongoing symptoms similar to yours, despite a negative antibody test. (A quick trawl through the "Insight from Experts" boards over the past few years bears this out). But, as far as I can make out, NONE of these people appear to have subsequently gone on to test HIV+ or develop AIDS.

So when you see the experts writing "most of the time" and "rare", and 99.5% or whatever, I think what they're really saying is that the balance of probabilities, along the lines of what I've written above, are greatly in your favour.

I don't know if this is any help or reassurance.

Yours
KitG
(Still experiencing a myriad of symptoms, but happy to accept the 99.9999999999% probability that he is negative)


P.S.
While we're on about percentages, check this out for some (hopefully) light relief . . .


Risk from a brief blow-job
By Joel E. Gallant, M.D., M.P.H. (07-Nov-1999)
http://hopkins-aids.edu/forum/view_question.html?section_id=61&id=17086&category_id=88


Question

I'M ASKING FOR A PERCENTAGE. I CAN'T FIND ONE.

WHAT IS THE PERCENTAGE OF GETTING INFECTED THIS WAY:

A WOMAN HAS YOUR PENIS IN HER MOUTH FOR 10-15 SECONDS. SHE THEN LICKS ALONG THE BOTTOM OF YOUR SHAFT WITH HER TOUNGUE UNTIL ORGASM.

WHAT IS THE RISK PERCENTAGE? SAY IF 1,000 PEOPLE DID THIS AND THE WOMAN WAS INFECTED. HOW MANY INFECTIONS WOULD OCCUR?

I CAN'T FIND THIS ANSWER ANYWHERE. YOU'D THINK AT THIS STAGE IN THE EPIDEMIC THERE'D BE REASONABLE ANSWERS ABOUT TRANSMISSION AT LEAST.

THANKS

(IF YOU ARE WONDERING. THE ANSWER IS YES. THAT IS MY RISK EXPERIENCE.)


Answer

I'm glad you asked that question. As a matter of fact, a recent seroprevalence survey was conducted in which 10,230 men suffering from premature ejaculation whose sexual activity was confined entirely to receptive oral sex were asked about their sexual practices and tested for HIV. Average duration of felatio in this cohort was 16.32 seconds. Three men in this cohort were HIV-positive, but all three had a history of injection drug use. In addition, a total of fourteen randomized, double-blind, multicenter clinical trials have been conducted evaluating the risk of female-to-male transmission through oral sex. In 12 of these trials, HIV-infected women performed oral sex on paid uninfected student volunteers. Four of these trials specifically address the issue you raise: fellatio of 15 seconds duration in which the woman stimulated the inferior aspect of the penile shaft with her tongue until orgasm had been achieved. The total number of male subjects involved in these four trials was 176. There were no cases of transmission among these 176 subjects, although genital herpes was believed to have been transmitted in two cases, and a substantial proportion of the volunteers sought treatment for premature ejaculation. The conclusion from these studies (a meta-analysis is in progress) is that female-to-male transmission is unlikely to occur during felatio, especially when the duration of the act is embarrassingly brief.

I hope you know that I'm putting you on. But I also hope that my answer points out the absurdity of your question... all of you people out there who keep DEMANDING STATISTICS and PERCENTAGES should think before you ask. Just how is it that such statistics are to be generated? Common sense will not only keep you out of trouble, but it will also keep you from asking dumb questions.



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