WooooHoooo!! Think you have all the symptoms?? Then read this
Hi Dr Bob,
I feel this is a fitting way for me to end this chapter of my life started end of November last yr in Thailand. Had protected oral and vaginal sex with a female sex worker in Pattaya. Condom slipped during withdrawal causing the head of the penis to come into contact with vaginal secretion. Then I freaked out, started to ask my self all those What ifs. Two days later developed balanitis (red blotches and itchiness in the head of penis). Five days after contact started to feel extreme fatigue/drowsiness/memory loss and unusual digestive patterns causing minimal urination during the day and frequent urination at night, as well as clear penis discharges. The whole body started to get itchy, although there were no obvious marks in the skin. Traces of blood can be found in the stools, and frequent nose bleeding. After three weeks, started to get red rashes over the thighs and develop a sore throat and night sweat.
Five weeks after contact and, having experienced every symptom in the book, including thrush in the tongue, red blotches in the facial skin, sinus infection, burning/tingling in hands and feet and losing 8lbs, I was firmly convinced that I must have been infected with HIV as Ive never had these symptoms before, since the sub-type E commonly found in Thailand is reported 50 times more infectious than B strain found in western countries. I went through 6 weeks of misery after the exposure to get tested for HIV and other STDs, and the doctor said that my symptoms are not reflective of ASR
Then came the decision day.. Guess what??? NEGATIVE!!!! WOOOOO!HOOOOOO!!!!
The realisation that day was that the symptoms I experienced all along were due to mental anxiety. Thats the danger of HIV, you dont even need to get infected with the virus to have your life turned upside down. The thoughts about the consequences of being infected will ruin your life.
Its been four weeks since I found out the good news. Most of the symptoms have already gone, but still experiencing hyperventilation. I am currently seeking psychiatric assistance in helping me to fully recover from that nightmare period.
The lesson that I am able to offer to all WWs stressing over symptoms is this, have faith and get on with your life. Having personally gone through depressive suicidal thoughts and mental anxiety, I know it is easier said than done. But instead focus on the consequences of your negative thoughts on your daily life. I know the last two and a half month would have been a lot more enjoyable had I not convinced myself of being infected with HIV.
Stay safe, and lets work together to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS in our communities and pray that there will be a cure out there soon enough for those less fortunate. God bless you all.
PS. For those of you infected who are feeling helpless, miracle might be just around the corner. Pls read
Congratulations and thanks for writing in to share your story.
By way of a reality check; however, I should point out the article from the BBC you reference is from 1999. The results of trials for both therapeutic and preventative vaccines have been, to date, very disappointing. We do have 23 different vaccines in some stage of clinical development at the moment, but a vaccine-related miracle is certainly not just around the corner. For now we should redouble our efforts on HIV/AIDS prevention, which has been an abysmal failure, in my opinion. Hopefully in the future, along with the approved ABCs of prevention (Abstinence, Be faithful, Condoms), we'll be adding a new set of prevention ABCs (Antiretrovirals, Barriers, and Circumcision), all of which are showing promise in clinical trials. Eventually we'll add the "V" (Vaccine) to our ABCs, but is it just around the corner? Nope. It's not even in the same time zone.
Stay safe. Stay well.