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Woried Sick

Question: 

Hi I am from South Africa mail 35 year old. on 9th September 2015 I had a high risk exposure with a CSW. Since then I have done 5 ELISA 4th Gen tests and they were all negative. I have also had 6 Rapid test all negative. Last ELISA was done on 4th of Jan 2016.

Soon after my exposure I experienced symptoms stiff neck muscle pain it is now 4 months and I have swelling on my spleen and lymph nodes in my neck.

My wife is also now experiencing similar symptoms.

My question is do I still have to continue testing and is there other diseases that can cause this.
I read on the web that there is lots of people that have similar symptoms that also test negative.

Thanks for your help

Answer: 

Thank you for contacting the AIDS Vancouver Helpline with your query

It seems as though you are feeling some distress about the possibility of acquiring HIV due to symptoms that you and your wife are experiencing.

HIV is a virus, and so when a person acquires HIV they may experience some general viral symptoms, however, often, they will notice nothing at all. It is for this reason that symptoms are not used as a tool for diagnosing HIV, and (particularly online) we much prefer to discuss the risk of the activity and any available test results.

I notice you refer to the encounter in September as a high risk exposure, and so I assume that this was unprotected sex. Using condoms significantly reduces the risk of HIV (and STI) transmission, and so we would say sex with a condom is low risk.

It's great to see that you went for testing after this encounter. I'm not sure as to the timeframe for the first few tests, however I can confirm that the ELISA test on 4th Jan would give you a conclusive result.

There are four very specific circumstances in which we would recommend delayed testing, and these are:
Antiviral treatment for Hep C
Chemotherapy
PEP treatment for HIV
Immunodeficiency disease

If these situations do not apply to you, then your results show that you are not living with HIV. In that case, any illness that you (and now your wife) are experiencing must be caused by something else. If your symptoms do persist, we would encourage you to consult with a medical professional to have this properly assessed and treated.

I hope that this information gives you some reassurance as to your HIV status. If there is some other reason you are not accepting your negative result, perhaps you would benefit from talking this through with someone locally. I'm including here a link to the Aid for AIDS website which has a list of HIV/AIDS counselling services in South Africa.

My very best wishes

Wendy (Volunteer)
AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online
Monday-Friday 9am-5pm (PST)
1 844 INFO-HIV (Toll free Canada & U.S.)
helpline@aidsvancouver.org
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