Hi Dr Bob,
This site has to be the most humerous HIV site in the world - very refreshing.
Anyway, here's my story. 6 months ago I made the biggest, drunken mistake of my life and had protected (condom), vaginal sex with a sex worker in a sauna. This took place in England but the girl was from Latvia. The condom did not break (as far as I am aware). She also performed protected oral sex on me (with a condom) and I inserted two fingers into her vagina for a few seconds. At the time I had a girlfriend of 4 years, and continued to have unprotected sex with her, despite feeling terrible guilt. 3 weeks after the incident in the sauna, I decided to get myself checked out, and tested negative for all STD's including Hiv. 8 or 9 weeks after the incident, I again tested negative for HIV, and was assured that although a 3 month test was recommended, I could be extremely confident that it would be negative given that the encounter was protected and thus (very) low risk and that my latest (8 or 9) week test had been negative. Stupidly, I decided not to bother with the 3 month test, and continued to have unprotected sex with my girlfriend. I convinced myself that I had put it all behind me. I have since seperated with my girlfriend, but recently she came down with a bout of shingles. This has brought my anxiety flooding back, as I am aware that shingles in young people (she is 21) is very rare and is sometimes a sign of hiv. Her shingles is mild. Should I be worried? I know I should probably get tested again (I should have done so at three months), but do you think I should be worried? I havent slept with anyone since the sauna incident apart from my girlfriend (now ex), and I am confident she has only slept with me aswel. I suppose what I'm asking is this: is this shingles outbreak likely to be a sign of HIV in the context of my story?
Thanks, A very worried young man
Hi Very Worried Young Man, (SHINGLES)
This type of shingles question comes up so frequently it's become a QTND (Question That Never Dies) and now has an ATNC (Answer That Never Changes). See below. Your worries are unwarranted. However, your keen sense of appreciation for a wickedly twisted sense of humor is commendable (and appreciated!).
Shingles Oct 11, 2006
Doc,Im 42 Year old male,and have just be told,i have a mild outbreak of shingles.I have been tested for hiv(negative)two years ago.I have protected sex (intercourse)but unprotected for oral with female,i see on most internet sites,that shingles is a sign of hiv.Doc do you think i may hiv? regards mick uk
Response from Dr. Frascino
Hello Mick UK,
Another QTND (Question That Never Dies)! See below, Mick. Relax! It is extremely unlikely that a mild case of shingles in a 42-year-old guy whose only HIV risk is "protected sex" and "unprotected oral" would be related to HIV disease. If you're worried, a repeat rapid HIV test will give you a definitive answer in just 20 minutes!
Good luck. Stay safe. Stay well.
Shingles Sep 21, 2006
Hi Dr Bob,
Well after a week and a half of a wierd looking rash around the left side of my waste and a portion of my thigh, my wife talked me into going to the doctor. He immediately diagnosed it as shingles. After searching for hours on the 'net and educating myself about shingles I have noticed a correlation between shingles and initial signs of HIV, especially young adults (I am 28). I have not had unprotected sex in 6 years (other than my wife) and even before that can't remember any 1 night stands of unprotected sex. I'm fairly certain my wife has not had any affairs. I guess my question is this; what is the likelihood of this shingles outbreak being an initial sign of HIV / AIDS? I have had no other health issues other than this latest outbreak of shingles. How many individuals actually find out they are HIV positive by a shingles outbreak as the only symptom?
Thank You, This site has been great so far.
Response from Dr. Frascino
"This site has been great so far?????" Hmmm . . . gosh, what else do we have to do to gain your unqualified approval? Make you a cappuccino? I would imagine in the great coffeehouse of life yours would have to be a venti one-Splenda-in-the-bottom, double-blended, half-caf, half-decaf, double-shot mocha chocolate latte, no whip, right?
Dude, if you've had no potential HIV exposures, you don't have to worry about HIV. As it turns out, the vast majority of cases of shingles even in young adults has absolutely nothing to do with HIV.
If you're worried, get an HIV rapid test. You'll have your definitive result in just 20 minutes. It will be negative. How do I know? Well, I got your coffee order right, didn't I?
Shingles at age 28? Im about to lose my mind. Please Answer Sep 3, 2006
I received an HIV negative result exactly 1 year ago (and well past the window period). Since that time I have had sex with 3 "high risk" females. Each were protected and the condom did not break. Anyway, over the last 2 months i have let the "am i infected" monster creep back into my head. Compounded with graduate school examinations over the last 6 weeks, I have been an absolute emotional wreck. Ive had indigestion and loose stools and jock itch. Ive been sleeping terribly. So today i look in the mirror and see a a red patch outbreak on my back. I know its shingles because im in the health care profession. Anwyay, i go onto the internet, the trusty steed of the symptom hunter, and found multiple sites saying that Zoster infections are a common first sign of HIV infection. I went to the ER and explained to the doctor my fears. He was an absolute asshole and just told me that "only immuncompromised young people get shingles", shook my hand, and left. Is this true? Can 6 weeks of crippling anxiety over possibe HIV infection, compounded with school examinations cause this. All of my sexual contacts were protected. From other posts it seems like my risk with protected sex with an intact condom would be virtually nonexistent, even if all 3 sexual contacts were HIV+. Please answer. Ive got exams coming up and am incapable of studying.
Response from Dr. Frascino
I absolutely agree with you! Protected sex with an intact latex condom properly used would make your HIV risk virtually nonexistent, even if your partners were HIV positive.
So what's up with letting the creepy "am I infected monster" creep back into your brain??? You know the facts!!! HIV cannot permeate intact latex. No way. No how. You're a "healthcare professional," frevinsakes!
As for the Internet being the "trusty steed of the symptom hunter," I'd say that's a one-way ride to worried-well hell!
Regarding the ER doctor, yep, "absolute asshole" would be accurate. Plus, I would add "woefully misinformed" to the adjective list. Shingles can occur in young folks who are not immunocompromised! If he doesn't know this, he shouldn't be working in an ER. In fact, he shouldn't have even made it out of medical school.
So relax, Max! Your HIV test a year ago was negative and your risks since then are "virtually nonexistent." If the "red patch outbreak" on your back is indeed shingles, this is not due to HIV. Yes, stress ("crippling anxiety") can cause a flare in herpes eruptions.
It's time for you to put the creeping creepy "am I infected" monster back in his cage. Scientific fact plus common sense should keep him/her securely and permanently locked up!
Now get back to your books! You can't use HIV as an excuse for not studying anymore!
Good luck on your exams. Stay well.