Please Read A Quick Answer Question, Very Worried

Question

Hi Dr. Bob,

Thank you for your time, I will try to be brief. Not too long ago I did something very stupid and now Im here. Im very worried and I have just two quick questions. I had headaches, swollen lymph nodes, a sore throat, a rash, and fatigue between 2.5 and 5 weeks after the potential exposure.

I was tested for HIV at 39 days after the potential exposure (just under 6 weeks) and it came back negative. Also I went to the doctor as the red blotchy rash had not disappeared and he diagnosed it as pityriasis rosea and gave me an antibacterial med that cleared it up rather quickly.

So anyway, my two questions were: 1. Does the negative result after 6 weeks in any way tell me that the symptoms that I had been showing before were not related to HIV or could they still have been related to HIV and the test just wont show it yet? And 2. If I had a fever, headaches, and diarrhea this past weekend (at 8 weeks after the potential exposure) could that have been related to HIV infection this late after the exposure?

Oh and thanks to whomever created that pop-up that explained to me where I can donate to The Robert James Frascino. I will make sure to donate to that. Thanks again.

Answer

Hello,

  1. The only thing I can say for certain about a negative six-week HIV test is that it is very encouraging, but not completely definitive. The vast, vast majority of folks infected with the virus will have detectable levels of anti-HIV antibodies in their blood by 4-6 weeks. Symptoms are unreliable indicators of who is and who is not infected. Therefore relating non-definitive HIV test results to vague non-diagnostic symptoms really is not helpful. You need a three-month test. The odds are all in your favor that the test results will show you are not infected.

  2. Once again, symptoms are unreliable and therefore should not be the focus of your concern. A negative test trumps symptoms each and every time.

Thanks for your tax-deductible donation (www.concertedeffort.org). In return I'll send my good-luck karma that your definitive HIV test remains negative, as I very strongly believe it will.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob