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Who can I turn to...?
Sadgirluk posted:
Hi there,

I'm a 25 year old woman living in the UK.

I am honestly at my wit's end and don't know what to do anymore. I have been feeling unwell since March- strange headaches, raised lymph nodes, sinus infections,yeast infections, visual disturbances, neuropathy, fatigue, muscle aches and mouth sores, however, HIV/AIDS has only registered as a possibility for the last month or so.

I have had two CBCs, which have both been completely normal (according to doctor) and I had a sexual health screening where I tested negative for all STDs, including HIV.

I have only ever had two boyfriends and was a veritable virgin until last year. I was with my first boyfriend for nearly five years but I am speaking the honest to god truth when I say we never had penetrative sex. I did have a pregnancy/STD scare at the beginning of the relationship (I was naive and pretty clueless on these subjects, as you can probably tell) and I have a feeling that he may not have been completely honest about his sexual history with me. However, he tested negative for lots of STDs (not specifically for HIV, might I add) and donated blood so being the ridiculously clueless and naive person I so clearly am, I didn't think to get tested myself and put the symptoms I'd been experiencing down to the fact that I wasn't 'used' to sexual contact. I'm now even beginning to think that he might have been lying about the blood donation- although I do remember seeing a letter from the blood donation service in his room.

I have been with my current boyfriend for nearly two years but he's a really innocent guy and I know for a fact he hasn't been with anybody before me (which makes all of this a hundred times worse). I'm also concerned as I've been living with my family for the past five years that I could have unwittingly been walking about with HIV and passed it on to them (embarrassingly enough, my mum often does my laundry and it is possible that she could have come in contact with menstrual blood, etc). I am actually going mad with guilt and think I can see symptoms in all of them. I have not been able to go to work because of this and I don't want to do anything, and still these symptoms persist...

Basically, I think I might be suffering from late-stage HIV infection (with possible opportunistic infections already present- candida and cytomegalovirus) and was wondering a couple of things...

1. I understand that 'seroreversion' is possible in late-stage HIV cases but regardless of symptoms, I'm still able to walk around and haven't lost all of my strength, neither have I lost a dramatic amount of weight. Is this a possibility? Or am I maybe dealing with some bizarre strain of the virus which doesn't show up on the test?

I imagine I will have to go back to the sexual health clinic at some point anyway but if I do, what should I ask them for? Would Western blot/CD4/viral load test be a better indicator if I did so happen to be advanced enough to be antibody-negative? (I believe the test I had was a combined antibody/antigen test).

2. If I was at this late stage, wouldn't something be showing up on the CBC? Like I said I've had two now, and both times the doctors have actually commented on how healthy my bloods would suggest I am! But if that's the case, why am I getting these infections? Would the fact that my white blood count is normal despite these indicate some kind of immune problem? Having read up a lot, I know CBCs aren't a good indicator as a general rule, but this really just completely flummoxes me...

I understand I must sound like a complete hypochondriac and that's how I'm being treated by all the health professionals I've seen but I genuinely feel that my concerns are real. I feel like I'm being brushed aside just because I'm not in a perceived 'high-risk' group.

Can anybody shed some light or give me advice on who I could turn to next?

I have been so unhappy for so long...
georgiagail responded:
CBC's are useless in determining ones HIV status.

However, the typically antibody screening test is EXTREMELY accurate in determining ones status unless the testing is done too early; for example, days after one has become infected. At that point in time there is likely not going to be enough antibodies present to be picked up by current screening tests.

If you were late stage HIV (AIDS) you'd have other significant symptoms that would be impossible to miss.

Keep in mind that many of your symptoms are depressingly common in folks who don't have HIV. Most adults carry HSV1, the virus that causes mouth sores, yeast infections are quite common in women (and can be made worse if you are on oral contraceptives), headaches can be a symptom of migraines (these don't have to be knock you out blindly to be considered migraines and can include both dizziness and some visual disturbances).

At any rate, screening/testing for HIV beats symptom guessing each and every time. You can, of course, continue testing but there is nothing that you have posted here that indicates the results will be any different, especially since you indicate you've never had penetrative sex with the first boyfriend and your second one sounds pretty darn innocent. You could, of course, ask the second one to get tested but it sounds only to make you feel better since, from your posting, it doesn't appear he's a candidate for HIV.


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