all the symptoms even with 3 month test and 2 RNA pcrs

Question

I'm ashamed to admit that even after testing negative at 3 months and having 2 negative RNA pcrs on the 2nd and 9th week I still fear I am infected with HIV. it has been 8 months and I'm contemplating getting another test but even if the result is negative it will calm me down for a few weeks and then I'll get upset again. I have had a dry cough for 8 months. my bruises take longer to heal. I had ever ars symptom (oral ulcers- one of which still remains, diarreah, fever, night sweats, sore throat, rash on my foot- a bunch or little red dots, genrralized swollen lumph nodes confirmed by my doctor, fever, appetite and weight loss). I tested negative for every other virus. mono, strep, etc. is it irrational for me to still think I have HIV? do u think there is a chance? my doctor is sick of me and I don't even think he believes I'm sick anymore. I have had a cold for 7 Months. if not HIV then what? please say something to me. ur always so compassionate and rational. do u think I need therapy? given my symptoms can u understand why I think it's HIV? how can I be sure it's not? I read a study with ppl who tested negative with pcr and antibody tests and that's what scares me. long after the window period. they said it was an uncommon immune response. how do I find out if I have the same issue. sorry for bothering u. and I'm a woman who had unprotected vaginal sex.

thanks in advance for your patience. ur really the best. I have been reading this board since June. every single day, every single new post. sometimes I laugh at people who r clearly not infected. and maybe ur laughing at me now. I hope so. idk why I can't believe my result. please tell me what to do. thank u. and I love u dr bob. seriously.

Answer

Hi,

Is it irrational of you to still believe you are HIV infected after having negative HIV-antibody tests out to three months and undetectable quantitative HIV PCR RNA tests at two and nine weeks? Yep! Absolutely Looney Tunes.

Your negative/undetectable HIV tests are definitive, conclusive and WOO-HOO-able. HIV is not your problem. No way. No how. No additional HIV tests are warranted. It's very telling that you already realize that even if you retest negative again today, you will still continue to worry you are infected. Your problem is not HIV, but rather fear of HIV. How can you be sure you don't have HIV? Your tests provide overwhelming and irrefutable evidence! A negative HIV-antibody test outside the window period trumps symptoms each and every time.

My advice is that you follow up with a good internal medicine doctor for any persistent symptoms. However, remember the cause of those symptoms is not HIV! (I can't diagnose the cause of your symptoms over the Internet.) I would also strongly advise you seek psychotherapy (counseling) with a psychiatrist (or psychologist) to address your irrational fear surrounding HIV. Anti-anxiety medications and counseling can be extremely beneficial in helping you confront and conquer your unwarranted worries.

You are not alone in having irrational fears about being HIV infected. Check out the chapter in the archives entitled "I'm Positive I'm Positive." It's filled with posts from folks just like you whom I affectionately refer to as fluffernutters. I should mention that none of the fluffernutters in that chapter wound up actually having HIV. That's right: none, zero, zip, nada!

Love you too babe!

Dr. Bob