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HIV-exposure / PEP Questions
An_250947 posted:
I've been in my first sero-discordant relationship (I'm negative) for a little more than a month. My partner has an undetectable viral load and takes his medication. 4 days ago (around 11pm), while stupidly piercing his ears with a safety pin, I pierced the skin right above the nail of my right index finger, after the pin had gone through his ear. I could barely see the hole in my finger and don't think I saw any of my own blood, but I sucked it (not thinking that it would have been best just to express the spot), then doused it with rubbing alcohol. He calmed me down, I fell asleep, then, around 8am, I went to an ER and started PEP. I now have months supply and was told that it has an 80% success rate.

I guess I just need help contextualizing all of this. The ER doctor told me my risk of conversion, given that his blood is a known source, was at least moderate and could be described as moderate-to-high. He also said that I should have come in right away. My partner's undetectable viral load and the fact that it was not a syringe count in my favor. Oddly, the spot felt infected, like an ordinary cut or poke might, the day after I went to the ER.

One question I have concerns what seem like side effects from PEP. I'm fatigued, I have nausea, cramping, diarrhea, sore throat, and mucous in my nose/sinus. Are these normal? Could they be symptoms of actually contracting HIV?

Thank you.
georgiagail responded:
Symptoms of early onset HIV tend to occur 2-6 weeks after transmission. What you are very likely experiencing are the side effects of the PEP (which can be quite rough).

Considering your partner has an undectable viral load, it is likely the risk is not quite as high as the ER physician suggested.


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