Question

I am young, and (I thought) in pretty good health. I do not exaggerate when I say that aside from a serious bout with the flu at 8 yrs of age, and an occasional cold / cold sore, I have been lucky in health matters. However, about two years ago I broke out with what was later diagnosed as a staph infection. It was successfully treated, but I had to switch antibiotics, due to an allergic reaction to the first. I'd never experienced an allergic reaction to anything. In the same period, I broke out with cold sores severals times in six months, far worse than any outbreak I'd ever had (mouth only, not genital area). I've always gotten cold sores (Herpes I), but have only broken out about 2x every 3 years or so. Recently, I was diagnosed with staph again. On top of that, I have sinusitis. Given my concern (I have had unprotected sex with someone who showed me his health department screen which indicated that he was negative for HIV and a couple of other serious STDs), I was tested for everything but HIV, and everything came back negative. I am afraid to be tested for HIV, as I worry about it being considered a 'preexisting diagnosis' if it were positive, even though my doctor tells me my risk is very low. Are there reasons that I would be having the aforementioned symptoms / problems that would NOT be related to HIV? Can someone fake a clearance from the health dept? (I am no longer having relations with the aforementioned person or anyone else). Last, are the 'anonymous' testing sites like AnyLabTestNow truly anonymous (I, for one, know that it is NOT truly anonymous thru the health department because of my field)?

Thank you for taking the time.

Your feedback would be greatly appreciated

Answer

Hi,

You are wondering if there is any reason you've had a staph infection and several bouts of cold sores over the past six months. Yes, of course there is. The simple reason is that you've had herpes type 1 for quite some time. The frequency of outbreaks can change for any of a number of reasons, including increased stress. This is not an indication of HIV. As for the recurrent staph infection, this too is a fairly common occurrence and has nothing to do with HIV per se.

Now what is this nonsense about being afraid to get an HIV test??? You've had unprotected sex and consequently have placed yourself at some degree of risk for STDs, including HIV. (I wouldn't trust someone's health department screen. He could have been in his window period or gotten infected after the date on the test, etc.) Can someone fake a clearance from the health department? I'm sure someone could print up a phony report that looks fairly real if they so desired.

As for preexisting conditions, if you've never had a positive HIV test before, the condition is not considered preexisting. It's only after a diagnosis is made that someone has a "condition!"

There is a big difference between confidential and anonymous testing. Some private medical offices do offer true anonymous testing (no name, no paper trail, etc.). The Home Access Express test is also anonymous. You can read more about anonymous versus confidential testing in the archives.

Dr. Bob