Please, you are my only answer right now.

Question

I want to thank you for this site and i'm so upset i didn t find it soner. Becouse of my indiference i m afraid i will pay with my life.i don t want to sound so melodramatic but i work to much to be in my position(finished academy/cadet time) and whith HIV you can t work in this industry. I m only 26 and i don t have to much sexual expiriance. All my life i was feeling bad about my sexual life. Because of these i was always afraid to go involve with somebody who knows my family/friends. Because i m a engineer on a bad ship right know i wanted to forget everything and go drinking and maybe exercise my sexual life. So i get to a bar in phillipines i drunk a little to much and i take a sex worker (in my head was nobody knows).I got unprottected oral sex with ending for about 1 minute and after maybe 40 sec (less than 1 minute) vaginal unprottected sex before i pulled out and go back to the ship but i didn t wipe. After 2 days while on sea i started to look on the internet about sexual life. I got terified with the idea of getting hiv so i started to get woried. After 1-2 days i started to have sore throught and my abdomen got bigger and i started to not eat, i was distroyed. After that i had muscular problems and tigling in feet and numbness in hand in the night. The last symptoms is steel present know after 4 weeks. I tried to get tested but know i m in india and in a small town. It s also sunday. And tomarow i will go on 10 days sailing. I can t take this anymore. I think i read all that is on this siteand all over the internet. I know that it s not good for me but i can t help it. Please, i just want a profesional opinion, i know i have to test to be sure but please just tell me how posible is to be so unliky? I m so sorry and i would take pep if i was home. It s my worst nightmare, to not be able to do something or to not have acces . I'm waiting for your response. Please. Alex

Answer

Hi Alex, thank you for reading The Body and writing in.

How possible is it you could be so unlikely? Pretty much impossible. Based on the events you are describing there is nearly zero risk you could have been acquired HIV from this encounter. Here's why:

(1) You received oral sex-- there is no HIV risk from receiving.

(2) Then you were inside her for less than a minute. Even if you were inside her for longer than a minute, your risk of acquiring HIV as the insertive partner (or 'top') from one encounter are less than 1% (https://www.poz.com/article/HIV-risk-25382-5829). She would have to be HIV positive, and have a detectable (transmittable) viral load, and then her blood or vaginal fluids would have to be able to get inside the urethra in your penis. For all that to happen in less than a minute is extremely unlikely.

(3) You don't know that she's HIV positive. Now that in and of itself doesn't mean she is not HIV positive. But contrary to popular belief, sex workers in some part of the world are getting tested and treated for HIV and other STIs than non-sex workers. I don't know the situation with the person you were with in Philippines but I would not automatically assume she is HIV positive and detectable. And again, if she were, (1) and (2) still apply.

The symptoms you described are not consistent with HIV seroconversion. When people do get flu-like symptoms after acquiring HIV, they typically happen between 2-4 weeks after HIV exposure, not hours later. Furthermore numbness in hand and tingling in feet are not signs of HIV (https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/about-hiv-and-aids/symptoms-of-hiv).

So what ARE the symptoms you are experiencing? I don't know, only a medical professional who examines you in person could offer you a diagnosis. I can say, however, that absent any medical causes, you would not be the first person to develop flu-like HIV symptoms as a reaction to shame and fear about sex. If we have been conditioned to experience sexuality as something wrong, immoral, sinful, or shameful, then we will often manifest physical reactions to having sexual intimacy with other people. It's the body's way of saying, "See I told you something had to go wrong here!" When in fact there is nothing physically wrong, just psychologically dissonant about pleasure.

I'd encourage you to talk to a doctor about your symptoms, can tested when you get back after this tour. I also wonder if there is anyone on the ship who can support you when you are feeling upset about what is happening on the ship. You didn't mention what is making 'bad' right now but I know a stressful work environment on dry land can reek havoc on our immune systems. I can only imagine would it would be like to be at sea for 10 days in a difficult work situation!

I hope this information helps you to realistically evaluate your risk (or lack thereof) from this encounter, and then learn facts so you can pursue other sexual connections without so much fear weighing over you. To learn more about how HIV is and is not transmitted, take a look at our resource page here at The Body: http://www.thebody.com/content/30024/hiv-transmission.html .