Doc Frascino Im really scared

Question

Hi Doc, I just want to say first your column helps all of us, those in serious trouble and those with little to worry about.

I had an encounter with a girl unprotected vaginal/anal... but she bled and I had a cut too.... the girl was from China and later I was told she was HIV positive.

Since then, at 2 and a hlaf week mark, I got Oral thrush, bad follicitis and today suddenly five or six raised red bumps on my chest, and I noticed on and off peeling on my hands.... (work out in gym)

I went to the doctor HIV clinic and they said the rashes on my body dont seem to correspond to HIV Rash, as they are too few and only on my chest...... she said maybe a steph infection..... but because of nature of sex have to have HIV test

Doc, I never have had anything like this before, I am in a really dark and lonely place right now..... I just feel like a walking virus, like Im dead.

Are my symptoms common of HIV infection? I mean if I have Oral thrush and all these follicitis sores on my body... thats a really bad sign right?

Sad in Sydney

Answer

Hello Sad in Sydney,

I agree with the HIV specialist who advised you that your rash is not worrisome for HIV acute retroviral syndrome. Was the "oral thrush and bad folliculitis" confirmed by the physician or are these self-diagnoses? I would guess the latter.

What is important to realize is that you should not be scared or worried because of symptoms. Rather, you should be concerned, because you voluntarily put yourself at risk for STDs, including HIV, by having unprotected vaginal and anal sex. That "she bled" and you "had a cut" may increase HIV-transmission/acquisition risk. I would recommend HIV testing at the three-month mark. If negative, the CDC would recommend a follow-up test at the six-month mark, because you had a documented significant HIV exposure. If you are having difficulty with depression ("I am in a really dark and lonely place right now . . . .") or anxiety during the window period, talk to your doctor. Counseling and/or medication may help you cope with this period of uncertainty. The last recommendation goes without saying: Do not ever put yourself at risk again. You are learning this lesson the hard way. Unsafe sex is not worth the potential catastrophic consequences.

Good luck. I'm here if you need me.

Dr. Bob