I know what you usually say about symptoms but.....

Question

Hi there Doctor Bob. I know you say not to go by hiv symptoms but I have a unique situation. I have noticed that the majority of people that write to you have vague symptoms (head ache, cough, etc.) I on the other hand have swollen lymph nodes which is not the least bit vague. My lymph nodes went down a bit in a few weeks following an encounter with an HIV positive women but remained enlarged a bit. I've had a 4.5 month negative test. Now at five months my lymph nodes have gone up again (by the way-they never went all the way down to begin with). I also have a cough and ulcers on the inside of my cheek. Is it possible that these reocurring symptoms could be HIV related. I have also heard that even though most people don't have symptoms this long, some do. I have also heard that there is the rare possibility that I may not seroconvert until 6 months or even a year? I just want to live the life I had before this nightmare. Please and thank you Doc.

Answer

Hello,

You "know what (I) usually say about symptoms . . . ," so I won't say it again. Oh hell, yes I will! Symptoms are notoriously unreliable in determining who is and is not HIV infected!!!

As for your "unique" situation of swollen lymph nodes . . . hmmm . . . well, I just did a quick search of the archives of this forum. If you type in "swollen glands," you get over two thousand posts! Hmmm . . . guess you missed those, eh? Perhaps your "unique situation" isn't so unique after all.

My advice remains the same as in those over two thousand other examples:

  1. If you placed yourself at risk for HIV, get tested three months or more after your last exposure.

  2. If your test is negative, HIV is not your problem. No way. No how.

  3. Use a latex condom to prevent future "nightmare" situations.

Dr. Bob