Unusual symptoms ... very worried! Please help.

Question

Hi Im looking for some guidance.

Im very worried about having caught HIV. I had unprotected sex with a new partner 4 weeks ago. I dont usually do that; the whole thing was unplanned. Anyway, it happened. We had vaginal sex once, and Im not aware of her sexual health. Ive been extremely worried and anxious ever since, especially as Ive not been too well. (As I have a somewhat weakened immune system - as I don't have a spleen - I tend to get ill quite easily).

Heres a breakdown of my symptoms: On the 6th day since possible infection, I started feeling unwell. Specifically, my head ached and I got pains on the right-hand side of my upper abdomen (what felt like an inflamed liver). By day 8, these had intensified and I had a fever (a temperature of 38), as well as constipation. These symptoms fever, constipation, a severe headache and abdominal pain continued until day 11. On day 12, these became less severe; and my temperature returned to normal. However, on day 12 I developed an occasional dry cough.

On day 13, I visited my doctor. Blood tests were done, which showed that I had an abnormally high white blood cell count indicating that I was fighting an infection (which my doctor thought was probably bacterial). Additionally, liver function tests were carried out (as was a hepatitis test), and these proved normal. As it was too soon to test for HIV, this was not done.

By day 13, I was feeling much better except for a continuing slight pain in my upper right-hand abdomen (which was gradually easing each day) and a headache. My temperature had returned to normal, and my constipation was gone (ending with a single bout of diarrhoea). My occasional dry cough continued, until day 20. On day 21, I had the feeling that the glands in my neck were slightly swollen (although not visibly so). Additionally, on day 21 I developed a slight sore (angular cheilitis?) on the corners of my mouth (note, neither was an open sore). Finally, today day 28 I have had, again, a single bout of diarrhoea (I was loose once). The mouth sores and swollen glands have, today, cleared up.

Reading about the signs and symptoms of early HIV infection, the most common are fever, sore throat and body rash. I have had neither a sore throat nor a body rash. While I did have a 4-day fever, this was quite early on. The literature on HIV says that people show initial symptoms from 2 to 4 weeks, yet my fever was some days prior to the 2 week mark (days 8-11). Ive not suffered from open sores, ulcers or vomiting. Yet, I have been rather tired and have had slightly swollen glands.

This, then, is a mixed bag of symptoms. Clearly I havent been well and Im very worried about HIV. My blood test indicated an infection (although Im told HIV tends to result in a lower than usual white blood cell count, not a higher one). Some of my symptoms are typical of HIV, yet others mainly the severe, burning abdominal pain are not.

Im going to have an HIV test, but my doctor wants me to wait until 3 months have passed. Im kind of going out of my mind about this, so felt it necessary to ask your professional opinion on the matter.

Answer

Hi there,

You can test at 90 days to be certain, but I am quite sure the result will be negative. This was a one-time occurrence and you were the insertive partner. Transmission was unlikely.

In health,

Richard