Likelihood of Contraction?

Question

Hello Dr.,

I know you've already answered questions regarding risk rates of HIV contraction, ARS, etc., but I have a specific question about the likelihood that I have contracted HIV. I was dating someone for a few months, and for about the last 2 months we were together, we had anal sex about once a week. I was the receptive partner each time. During foreplay, he would usually penetrate me very briefly (and gently) without a condom (maybe 10 'thrusts'), and then he would put on a condom and we would have sex. Six days after the final time we had sex, I woke up with a sore throat and an accompanying transient headache. Throughout the day, however, my sore throat started to feel more like an earache. After a few days of this bizarre sore throat/earache/headache, I went to the doctor thinking maybe I had tonsilitis or something. He said there was no evidence of infection either in my throat or my ear. However, now 13 days after initial symptom onset, I still have a slight sore throat/earache that comes and goes throughout the day. I have been getting at least 8-9 hours of sleep every night for the past 2 weeks, so I feel that my body should have been more than able to fight off any routine viral infection in these past 2 weeks. I have not had any swollen lymphnodes (at least as of when I went to see the doctor), nor have I had any fever or rash. My previous sexual partner does not really pre-ejaculate, and I have no reason to believe that he has HIV. Given all of this, does it sound likely that I could have contracted HIV? I know symptoms are wildly unreliable indicators of contraction, but given my mildly risky engagement in non-condom foreplay (even if only briefly), I am concerned. I went to a health clinic 3 days ago and got an HIV test, but the results take 3 weeks to come in. And even if the results come back negative, I know that much of my recent sexual activity would fall in the window period of HIV-antibody production. So any thoughts/opinions/research you could provide me would be most appreciated. Thanks so much.

Answer

Hi,

Unprotected sex, even only "10 thrusts," does place you at some degree of risk for STDs, including HIV. Your "symptoms" are not at all worrisome for (or even suggestive of) HIV acute retroviral syndrome (ARS). However, as you mentioned, symptoms are "wildly unreliable." You need an HIV-antibody test at the three-month mark, not due to symptoms, but due to your risky behavior.

Good luck!

Dr. Bob