Very scared;; Look up to you and need your help;


Dr. Bob,

I enjoy reading your encouraging answers here and wanted to know your opinion about my case. I've recently been extremely worried about symptoms I've been experiencing and I'm dam near going crazy;

The time I could've been exposed was about 3 years ago and involved 3 men I dated that year. I had read on this very board that oral sex was a very low risk activity but maybe got a little carried away;; I had various unprotected oral sex with these men I dated, twice with two of them, and one with the last one. I swallowed and I admit it was terribly stupid. I did at least talk about sexual pasts with them and they claimed to have been tested. I had believed the whole time I was negative because, believe it or not, I heard in a college class about AIDS that a pap smear can detect HIV and my pap smears never turned up anything. Well, now I know that's not right;; So now I'm terrified that I'm infected and possibly infected my boyfriend whom I've been dating over 2 years. I can't get over the worry and I'm driving myself absolutely crazy;;

Let me fill you in on my weird symptoms: only since November this past year, I've had a bad bout with bronchitis, two bad colds that it took very long to get over, I was recently diagnosed with colitis and only in the last week I've been experiencing viral symptoms so severe I felt like I was going to faint. I have several swollen glands in my neck (not imagined either, my doctor noticed them and said I had an enlarged thyroid), very bad muscle pain (so bad that it bothers me sitting down, my arms hurt alot), headaches, occasional dizziness and occasional nausea.

I just had a traditional HIV blood test done at my doctor's office and am awaiting the results. I'm terrified of what I'll find. I read that oral sex carries a risk of 1 in 10,000? That sounds so low but due to how I've been feeling and all the things wrong with me, I feel so certain I got it;; I feel so sick and it's not going away. Please tell me what you think, Dr. Bob;; Your answers tend to give me a little hope and I'm truly scared and sad for me and my boyfriend;;



You learned in a college class on AIDS that a pap smear can detect HIV and since your pap smears have been normal you've assumed you were HIV negative???? YIKES! Let's hope the professor who taught that class is now one of the unemployed!

Your assumption about oral sex is correct: low risk.

Symptoms are notoriously unreliable in predicting who is and is not HIV infected. Your symptoms are not worrisome for or suggestive of HIV acute retroviral syndrome or HIV disease. The 1 in 10,000 estimated-risk statistic you mention assumes your partner was confirmed to be HIV infected. Your statistical risk would be even lower, as we do not know the HIV status of your stud trio.

I'm pleased you've now learned a bit more about HIV disease and HIV prevention. I'm also glad you've taken an HIV test. The odds are astronomically in your favor that you did not contract the virus from your adventures three years ago with the three mystery men. I'm quite confident you'll test negative and that you'll soon be yelling WOO-HOO! OK?

I'm here if you need me.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob