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What Are the Symptoms of HIV and AIDS?

November 19, 2009

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3. Your mind is a powerful thing.

Your mind can make it seem as if your tongue is covered in the white spots that sometimes indicate thrush, when in fact it's perfectly pink. Your mind can also make you feel tired and lethargic even though you're perfectly well-rested. It can make you break out into rashes, elevate your heart rate or cause you to wake up at night drenched in a cold sweat.

In short, your mind can convince you that you have HIV when you don't. This can happen for any number of reasons, including guilt, stress or obsessive-compulsiveness. The key is to realize when your fears about HIV are legitimate and when they're not.

Keep in mind that, if you're worried that something you did put you at risk for HIV, no matter how "out there" you might think your action was, it's pretty much guaranteed that other people have worried about the same thing. In fact, TheBody.com's "Ask the Experts" forum on safe sex and HIV prevention is flooded with tons of questions every day. It's normal to be scared, especially if you don't know much about HIV. But that is why it is important to educate yourself: so you don't have to be unnecessarily frightened anymore.

That education includes getting an HIV test. It doesn't hurt to be sure you're negative -- in fact, all adults and sexually active teenagers should get tested for HIV periodically, in the same way that you periodically check your cholesterol levels, or that women periodically check their breasts for lumps.

But if you find yourself going back for an HIV test every month even though you haven't done anything high-risk (i.e., unprotected sex or sharing needles), or if you find yourself constantly wondering whether mundane, everyday activities put you at risk, or if you find yourself constantly checking your tongue for spots or your skin for rashes, remember just how powerful your mind can be, and consider talking to a counselor who can help you put things in perspective.

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