Anonymous
Hi and here is my story: I had a negative test 2 days after 84 days from possible exposure I live in the U.S. (georgia) and I am a 19 year old female and had sex with a 20 year old guy in the army but I do not know his status, anyways I still have so many symptoms after a negative test. My skin is burning all the time (arms and face mostly), muscle twitching/spasms all over (especially in legs), vision getting worse… in general just not feeling well. I want to get another test at 6 months but my doctor said its rare for results to change. Even if it's still negative I don't know what else could cause these symptoms but hiv, I have never felt this bad until after having sex and these symptoms are not going away whatsoever. I believe I have hiv or maybe even aids already. My exposure was in late January had hiv test late April. Symptoms started 3 days after possible exposure and have gotten worse since than, I'm so over feeling like this. Plz help, stress is so bad and I can't focus on nothing expect thinking I have aids 24 hours a day. I can't stand myself anymore knowing its my fault I got myself in this situation and I might possibly die because of a stupid mistake. I'd kill myself first before letting aids do it. No way I can keep living feeling like this all day everyday. Sorry for the long post
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Anonymous
Hello and thank you for contacting our Helpline. I am very happy to help answer your questions.

It sounds like you are very concerned about your HIV status due to your long-lasting symptoms. I'm going to break down a lot of things for you to hopefully clear some myths up and reduce some of your stress.

Firstly, remember that it is fairly difficult to acquire HIV. By this I mean that there are only a few scenarios in which HIV can be transmitted effectively. Typically, HIV is transmitted through unprotected sex or sharing of needles that contain HIV+ blood or other fluids. Keep in mind that you mentioned a "possible exposure." It may comfort you in knowing that if you used a condom during sex, your risk is greatly reduced to be that of a low risk. Secondly, for you to acquire HIV, your partner had to be HIV+. I know that you mentioned that you did not know his status, but remember that if he was HIV- to begin with, there is no risk to you. I hope these facts can help to reduce your stress in this situation.

With regards to your symptoms, we actually don't use symptoms to determine status here at AIDS Vancouver. This is because some people show them, others do not, and they *often get confused with other illnesses like the flu.* For this reason, there is a possibility that your symptoms are not related to HIV at all. It may be in your best interest to get in touch with a local healthcare professional to see where your symptoms are coming from and get you on track to feeling better! I can imagine how horrible it must be to be feeling sick for an extended period of time.

Here is a link that will connect you with AIDS service organizations in Georgia. You can contact them for information about your symptoms and they may be able to connect you with a healthcare professional that will be able to assist you in getting your symptoms under control. Please know that just because I am direction you to AIDS service organizations does not mean that I believe you are HIV+. I am simply directing you to other organizations like AIDS Vancouver because I know they are very experienced with cases like your own and may be able to provide you with assistance that is closer to home. You may also wish to visit your own local doctor for more support.

http://www.thebody.com/index/hotlines/other.html

In terms of your testing, here at AIDS Vancouver we consider tests conclusive 3 months post-exposure. Testing is the only true way to know your status. Your test results are conclusive by our standards. Your doctor was correct in that results typically do not change after 3 months. This is because by 3 months, the body produced antibodies to fight off the HIV virus if it is present in your body. The human body is quick in preparing a defence for viruses, and this is the reason why a test after 6 months will likely not change your result.

Please do not consider your sexual activity to be a stupid mistake. There are many people that share the same concerns you do. It may help you to learn that acquiring HIV that develops into AIDS is also not a "death sentence." There are many treatments available (you can discuss these with the organizations I provided you with, should you be HIV+) that allow people to live long and healthy lives. If suicide is a genuine concern for you, I strongly encourage you to seek support. I have provided you with a link below that will give you the phone number of a Georgia suicide crisis hotline.

http://www.behavioralhealthlink.com/

I encourage you to utilize the resources I have provided you with, as they will work with you to provide you with some guidance. Keep in mind, however, that your test results are negative and conclusive. It is ultimately your decision as to whether or not you choose to retest again at 6 months. If your doctor is uncomfortable with it, you can speak to the organizations I have linked you with and they can give you more guidance and options for you.

I wish you the best of luck. Please continue to stay in contact with us if you have any more questions or concerns. We are more than happy to assist you.

Sincerely,

Caroline

AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online Volunteer

Monday-Friday 10am-4pm PST

604-253-0566 ext 299

Private and Confidential
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