Salve Dr. Frascino!
I'd like to start by thanking you for the endless support you've been offering on this site to a lot of worrying wells and fluffernutters! I could relate to most of their fears and I can understand what a tough time they must going through. A lot of your responses in the archives were reassuring for me too. I have read extensively through the forums. However, I've come here for a final reassurance.
I'm a 25yr old guy from India. I'll first start with my history.
During 2002-2004, I performed unprotected fellatio on two men at different times, unprotected cunnilingus on a woman and had protected vaginal intercourse with her (all three were of unknown HIV status). I tested negative for HIV in 08/2005.
Then during 2007-2009, I was giving and recieving unprotected oral sex while repeatedly attempting receptive protected anal sex with this one caring HIV -ve male friend who did not have any other partner during this period. Whilst drunk, I once recieved and gave an unprotected handjob to a male stranger.
In Jan 2010, I performed unprotected fellatio on a person of then unknown status (who later said he'd tested HIV -ve in Jan 2010, but I'm not sure if he waited for the recommended window period). My lips often get dry and they crack, so I got worried (read: extremely anxious, losing sleep etc.,) that I might've got infected through possible breaks in my lips. As far as I can remember, I did not have sores or wounds in my mouth and he did not ejaculate. He also thrusted his penis between my thighs from front and from behind but did not penetrate me. Later on, this person repeatedly reassured me that he was 100% safe and that I could trust him but I was on a bad anxiety trip at the time and was not easily convinced. In March 2010, he fingered me anally for a few seconds with some lube and was on top of me for a few more seconds while rubbing his penis between my thighs. He did not ejaculate. The whole session lasted only a few minutes as I got scared and left.
Last week, it suddenly struck me that I had not tested for STDs recently and that I had convinced myself with this person's 'reassuring' words. I panicked. Like many others out here, I panicked like crazy, googled HIV, voraciously read through the internet (medhelp, ehow, yahoo answers, Dr.HHH, Dr. L M Nath, other forums etc.,) and I fuelled my worries further!! For the last one week, my internet time has mostly been spent on 'window periods' 'HCV delaying HIV seroconversion'(about which I've read your replies) 'HCV transmission through oral sex' and it drove me crazy to the point that I have had ZERO recreational time (music, movies, relaxation time etc.,).
On 29/11/2010, I went to a local HIV counselling and free testing centre and poured my heart out to the counsellor there who heard me out and spoke with me patiently for an hour. I got tested and was asked to come the next day for the result. That night, I convinced myself that the result would most probably be HIV -ve and I was mostly calm and composed till next morning. I had told myself that I am just going to get the result 'on paper' and that I already know I'm HIV -ve and that I will stop worrying.
On 30/11/2010, I went to get my results. The counsellor first asked me what would be my further course of action in life if the result was negative, and then what I would do if it was positive. After hearing my responses, she said "the result has come out, as positive". I cannot explain how I felt at the time. I was obviously upset and was beginning to panic, thinking "what am I gonna do now?" and then she said "the result, is negative". I was RELIEVED. I am not sure if counsellors are allowed to scare people like that, but I took the positives out of the experience and I realised she might have done that to make me feel thankful for being healthy and that life is too precious. Yes. I did realise that. That relief was huge. Then she said "As of now, there is no HIV in your blood. But, you may still be in the window period and you should come back and get tested in the first week of March, to be absolutely sure" That really made me feel very very uncomfortable.
She did give me a signed report attested by a doctor that said the test type was "comb--" something (Wasn't able to make out her handwriting and did not bother to ask her. I'm assuming it was a 'HIV combo test'??) and "HIV-1 & HIV-2 : Non reactive", along with a confirmation "VDRL : Non reactive". Before leaving, I thanked her for doing a good job, and for listening to me patiently for a long time. She also did confirm that I can consider the test as accurate.
Needless to say, it started off another worry process involving 'delayed HIV seroconversion due to HCV' and many other disturbing thoughts about 'beating all odds' or 'being a rare case'. All I wanted to do is to finish this test and put it to rest once and for all. The thought of having to have this in my mind for the next three or four months is unacceptable to me and I can only relate to and empathise with those who have just had an exposure and need to wait for the window period to end to get tested. I can understand how stressful it can be and I do not want to go through that phase.
I have been a disappointed wreck since I walked out of the centre. My internet research has only intensified. I have been worried about a HCV infection (which I fear I might've contracted from my past exposures, and that I have not tested yet) possibly clouding the HIV test results.
From what I have heard from HIV experts such as yourself, Dr. McGovern (I read the HCV questions and answers thoroughly), Dr. HHH and Dr. L. M. Nath, a HIV negative result at the three month mark can be taken as conclusive (as per guidelines) and that the one at the six month mark is definitely conclusive (as only in extremely rare cases can seroconversion take up to 6 months).
I feel better today and have been fighting the worrying thoughts since morning. Its difficult, but I am trying my best to fight off the thoughts that I feel are irrational. If I do convince myself for now, I do not want to test again after four months. I feel that might make me feel at ease again but I also feel I'll be cheating myself and the people I love by fuelling my worries again and proving to myself that I was not really convinced the first time.
I am going for an anti-HCV test tomorrow and will possibly get the results by Monday, and the result will most probably be 'HCV negative'. I am sure I am well outside the window period. I am doing this just to rule out HCV once and for all. I will definitely post a final update here.
Please help. I am in need of real mature advice and reassurance from an experienced doctor such as yourself. I know you will understand. I trust you.
Dr. Bob, thank you for your time.
Your negative HIV-antibody test on November 30, 2010 was definitive and conclusive. HIV is not your problem. No way. No how. No additional HIV tests are warranted.
The counselor who advised you that you were "positive" before telling you the true test result was negative should be unceremoniously fired.
It's time to stop worrying and start WOO-HOO-ing!
Good luck. Be well.