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    ARS and general hiv question
    atlanticmzz posted:
    Hi Gail/Dan,
    Sorry for this long winded question. I have a question about ARS and another symptom I have been experiencing. Over the last 2 years I have had many heterosexual high risk experiences(oral, vaginal& anal) unprotected and this has lead to my high stress and anxiety level today. Abut 4-5 weeks after one of these high risk encounters I got real bad headaches that lasted about a week then went away for a week and then came back again for about another week. I have read that headache is very common during ARS. Does this sound like it could be related to that? Also, do we know about what percentage of people who contact hiv experience these symptoms of ARS? This is really the only symptom that I can remember that I've experienced but now I am getting these pains in my groin area where the lymph nodes are. They aren't swollen and dont feel enlarged but i can feel a tiny bit of pain sometimes and even when walking. I read that some people never experience ARS symptoms but that later on these lymph node pain/swollen lymph nodes will appear in the groin and neck areas and could be one of the first signs of hiv infection? This has me very scared and stressed out. I know we can't diagnose by what we read or from these symptoms and I just have to go get tested and I am trying to bring myself to do it very soon.I guess I just need a little push or something. I have all kinds of other things going on with my body too and I always think they are hiv but I know stress can cause them too and I have caused myself a lot of stress over this. Especially since I now have a girlfriend that I plan on one day asking to marry me. But she knows nothing about my anxiety or my past and i know if I'm infected she probably is too and I could never forgive myself for that. If you could please answer my above questions I would appreciate it. No need to sugarcoat anything with me either. I know I am high risk given the girls I was with and I know if they were going unprotected with me they were doing the same with others as well. Yes I know it was very stupid and irresponsible on my part and possibly life threatening. Your response and insight would be appreciated! Thank you!
    georgiagail responded:
    An excellent article that gives a good estimate on the stats regarding symptoms seen in ARS:

    Because you have engaged in unprotected sexual contact, it would be an excellent idea to get the full range of STD testing; not just HIV.

    The more common bacterial based STD's (i.e., Chlamydia, Gonorrhea) are going to be seen in much larger numbers from unprotected sexual contact than HIV and because testing checks of the actual presence of the offending bacteria (as opposed to HIV screening which involves checking for antibodies the immune system begins to produce after transmission), testing for these can be done now with very accurate results.

    Do this prior to engaging in anymore unprotected sexual contact with your girlfriend.

    Mikeonthefloor replied to georgiagail's response:
    Gail- this is a good article but in some ways it seems to contradict a lot of what I have read here and elsewhere. First is where it talks about how long sysmtoms last and says "Usually a few days, up to 1, maybe 2 weeks. It has been emphasized that ARS is NOT a chronic condition," Is that still accurate?

    Also when it talks about the percentages of catching HIV depending on the what you do- it says the percentage forunprotected annal sex with a partner you know is positive is 20 to 30%. That seems very high in relation to other articles I have read. I know the article is 10 years is it possible the findings have changed over that time?
    georgiagail replied to Mikeonthefloor's response:
    Correct; ARS is not a chronic condition. Like the regular flu, it lasts a short time period. After that, HIV has no symptoms for many years. In an untreated individual more serious symptoms typically do not occur until the immune system has been severely damaged by the virus. This takes (as an average) a decade for the virus to move from HIV to AIDS (again, in an untreated individual).

    This is why when someone post symptoms they've read about on the internet (and especially symptoms seen in end stage HIV) several months after what they fear has been an exposure, we're pretty sure these symptoms have nothing to do with this disease. For example, oral thrush is not simply a white tongue or a minor sore throat; it is a condition that makes it very painful to swallow

    The stats on risk we use (and this comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) for estimated per-act risk from unprotected receptive anal intercourse is 50 per 10,000 exposures with a source known to carry the virus. For insertive, 6.5 per 10,000 exposures, again with a source known to carry the virus.

    Keep in mind these are only estimated risk stats; obviously one can't do reseach on humans with the deliberate attempt to transmit the virus from an infected person to an uninfected one.

    Mikeonthefloor replied to georgiagail's response:
    The stats you quote are more of what I read somewhere. The stats in the article of 20 to 30 percent seemed really high so thanks for clearing that up.

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