Anonymous
Hi ,
First of all I would like to thank you for being so helpful to everyone especially in a time when they need it the most. i am among one of those people who is under HIV scare.
I engaged in a low risk activity (unprotected oral sex) with a female about 8 weeks ago and I have a few questions which I hope you can answer. As follows:
1- I am aware that the symptoms comes in the form of a flu like case with fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, muscle ache etc. But how long does these symptoms last? and also do they all come all together or a person can have one symptom i.e swollen lymph nodes at one time and fever at another 4-5 weeks apart?
2- are these symptoms a response to the antibody production in the body against the virus? in other words is it necessary that when these symptoms occurs the person is having antibodies in his blood and are detectable? i got a HIV ag/ab combo test 6-7 weeks after and it was non reactive. but i had symptoms at that time.
3-are the symptoms reoccuring, i.e they comes and goes, sometimes its the swollen nodes in the neck and other time its in the armpit...
4- is weight loss associated with ARS in early stages or is it just the too much worry which doesn't let me eat..

I will highly appreciate if you can reply these questions in specific. thank you very much.
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Anonymous
Hi there!
THank you for contacting the AIDS Vancouver Helpline with your HIV related questions and concerns. We are happy to help!

I will answer your questions in order and number them as you have numbered them to make it easier to follow!

1) Here at AIDS Vancouver we do not go by symptoms, as you said, because they can be vague and often mimic other viral infections like the flu. Not only that though, we also do not go by symptoms because some people don't even show symptoms, while others show very severe ones. There is just so much variation that it is not reliable to use symptoms in any way, as it can just cause unnecessary anxiety over nothing. There is no definitive answer for me to give you in terms of timeline, as, like I said, everyone is different. Some people who acquire HIV show symptoms, some don't, and everything in between. Testing is the only way to know definitively.

2) The symptoms, if we are considering them symptoms of HIV ONCE someone has been considered positive, would be part of the immune response. I cannot tell you the specifics of this question either, as I'm not a doctor so I'm not sure how they coincide, but again testing is the only way to be sure. If you got a test at 6-7 weeks, that is a very strong indication of your status. This test is considered by most HIV specialists to be conclusive at 6 weeks, although the BC CDC still says 12 weeks. However, your results are highly unlikely to change.

3) Again, I have nothing to tell you about the symptoms. These types of symptoms could be caused by literally ANYTHING, including anxiety over the matter, so partnering with your health care professional is the best method and the only way to get to the bottom of the symptoms.

4) Weight loss is sometimes associated, however, like you said, a lot of times the stress and anxiety over the matter causes a loss of appetite. I recommend not preoccupying yourself with the symptoms you're saying you're experiencing, dealing with those with a doctor, and instead focusing on your test results, as those are a great indication of your status, and if you get tested again at 12 weeks then you can be certain.

I realize that these experiences can be extremely stressful and worrisome, but worrying honestly just makes it worse! Also remember that your experience was low risk, which, in combination with your test result, is a strong indication of your status.

Hopefully this helped!

Sincerely,
Christina

AIDS Vancouver Helpline Online

Monday-Friday 10am-4pm PST

604 253 0566 Ext 299

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