herpes, lymph nodes, hiv??

Question

Hi, I was told I have herpes 1 about 6 months ago but it cleared up straight away and I had very few symptoms. I had unprotected sex 2 months ago and had another outbreak days after. This time medication made no difference and it took about 5 weeks to clear up, I got pains in my leg and a few single spots on them, and was tired and flu-like symptoms the whole time. About a week ago the lymph node on the right side of my groin has swollen, although it isn't painful. I know these are all herpes symptoms but they are also symptoms of first getting hiv? I'm really worried I might have got hiv, would it explain why I had an outbreak that has been so much worse than the first?? I am worrying so much I can't sleep and am scaring myslef reading things on the internet. I would go and get tested now but it hasn't been 3 months yet so is it likely antibodies would even show up yet?? Please answer! Thanks.

Answer

Hello,

The reason you should be worried about possible HIV infection should have nothing to do with your herpes infection, but rather with the fact you had unprotected sex. Symptoms are notoriously unreliable in predicting who is and is not HIV infected. A quick read through the archives of this forum will confirm that! Unprotected sex places you at risk for STDs, including HIV. Consequently you need an HIV test at the three-month mark whether you are symptom free or have every possible symptom in the book!

Regarding herpes simplex virus type 1, nearly 7 out of 10 Americans have oral herpes, which, by the way, is often acquired non-sexually during childhood (i.e. cold sores). That you had a severe outbreak "days after" your unsafe-sex experience does not change your HIV risk probabilities. A three-month HIV test should be your next step, along with realization that unsafe sex is not worth the potential catastrophic consequences!

Good luck. Stay safe to stay well.

Dr. Bob