[Question #1031] Another follow-up to question 952

87 months ago
PLEASE forgive me, first off!  And I'm begging you NOT to "ban" me or anything like that.  I just don't know what else to do.  It's been 3 weeks today since possible exposure (detailed in 952) and I'm convinced I'm seroconverting and have ARS symptoms.  Have had minor to medium sore throat for over two weeks, headaches almost daily...general cold-like headaches and feelings...the list goes on and on.  Was going to schedule appt with my gp, but honesty have de ides that there's no point to it if I'm infected.  I agree I need help, but as I've mentioned, if it's HIV, then it doesn't make sense to seek that help- if that makes sense.  I just keep thinking that somehow I'm the ONE that got it from a low to no risk exposure, no matter how many times I go over the scenario.  If it weren't for all these symptoms, I might could let it go, but...I don't mind testing, but now I'm scared to death that this time is THE time, and I'm not sure what I'd do.  I'm also scared to even bother y'all again...I'm afraid you're going to say something like, "hmmm, this really does sound like hiv" or something along those lines, and it terrifies me to think that too.  Of course these are anxiety driven worries, but again, the symptoms have just been going on for at least a couple of weeks and I'm convinced I'm the exception here.  Do you still have the same opinion/advice regarding this?  If I did rest, would it matter if I tested on the 28th day exactly or do I wait a few?  Please forgive me and please don't shut me out!  I don't mind spending the money here at all, either.  It's more than worth it to have even just a little peace of mind!  Please help!!
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
87 months ago
My opening response to your most recent past thread (there are three of them) included "I am not going to repeat any answers you have already had, so if you have any follow-up comments/questions, make certain they do not repeat ones you have already asked. This site is not a substitute for professional counseling, which you may need to help get you beyond your apparent conflicts about your regretted sexual decision. I suggest it from compassion, not criticism -- but also from medical knowledge that simply hearing the facts and our opinions still another time is never a fix for fears like yours."

And you correctly predicted the response this time. The symptoms you report are not suggestive of a new HIV infection. You are not "the exception here". You had a zero risk exposure (hand-genital contact). If you decide to be tested, a duo/combo test at 28 days will be 100% conclusive.

One of the goals of this forum is education for readers other than the questioners. You will appreciate that repetative anxiety driven questions like yours have no educational value. Therefore, this is for sure your last thread on this topic. Any more after this one will be deleted without reply and without refund of the posting fee.

I would suggest you not use up your two follow-up comments/questions until you have your 28 day test result, which will be negative. I will have no further advice for you until you post that result.


87 months ago
I wanted to write and thank you again for your invaluable and immeasurable help.  I also thank you for bringing the "Handsfield Hammer" down in your responses to me!  When you do that, it really helps to drive the point across and makes me feel better.
Just got my test results back, and as always, you were right. Negative results for HIV 4th gen combo test.  I have a few questions, of course.  I feel as if I know your responses already, but if you have a chance and can respond some time, I would greatly appreciate it.
I used STD Express for testing.  I have used them many times (we discussed this months ago in Question 173).  The blood was drawn at a Quest Lab nearby.  They assured me MANY times that the test was the antibody/p24 antigen test.  My questions/concerns:
1.  Do you consider this a legitimate testing method?  From everything I've read, and from my experiences with them, I feel as if they are.
2.  Are ALL 4th gen hiv tests the combo tests?
3.  Is there a chance of false negative?
4.  They suggest testing at 2 weeks and then again at 6 weeks.  Is there ANY need for me to test again?
5.  Can I rest completely assured that I am HIV negative?
6. If the symptoms I'm experiencing were due to HIV, seroconversion, ars, etc., would o definitely have tested positive?
7.  My biggest concern is that I'm a dunce, which you have certainly surmised!  The thing is, when I was counting days to come up with 28, I used July 14 as day 1.  This was the day of possible exposure. That made yesterday (test day) day 28, but now I'm worried that I should've started counting on the 15th and tested today.  Does that make a difference?  I don't mind testing again tomorrow, although I hope to never have to go through this torment of waiting again, if you think I should.
8. Is there any chance of seroconversion after this time frame?  If ars/seroconversion can occur anywhere from 8 days to 4 weeks, can I be sure I'm okay?
Again, I can't thank you enough, and even though I've said it before, as I do with all I write, you are a saint and a lifesaver!  Thanks so much!
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
87 months ago
It's pretty easy to always be right in replying to questions like yours. In 12 years since I started doing online forums, with thousands of questions, there has not been a single question from someone who turned out to have acquired HIV from an exposure s/he asked about. It doesn't take much expertise to predict the same outcome for each new question!

1) Online testing services like STD Express are brokers only; they don't have their own labs, but use standard community labs, in your case a Quest outlet. Quest is highly reliable and uses standard, relable test methods.
2) "4th generation" and "combo" are synonyms; they mean the same thing.
3-5,8) No chance and I see no need for another test. You don't have HIV and no chance of seroconversion beyond 28 days.
6) HIV cannot cause symptoms before a 4th gen test becomes positive.
7) There is no research that allows a conclusion of different test performance at 1 day intervals. 28 days is considered conclusive, however.

Thanks for the thanks. I'm glad to have helped. I hope these replies settle it for you once and for all.

87 months ago
This will be it, I promise.  Of course it has to be since this is my last allowed response.  Thanks again for the help and saving!!  I was completely convinced that I was infected this time, and I spent all night dreading the results, etc. Reading your previous responses over and over got me through the night, so I thank you again.  Also, many thanks for never being judgmental!  That means more to me than I can express.  Just a couple more things...
Just to clarify question 6...and this is probably what you're saying but I'm too dumb to pick up on it...if the symptoms I'm experiencing were due to hiv, my test would've been positive, right?  Again, I think that is what You're saying but I wanted to double check.  As far as days go, I didn't quite get what you meant there, but, did I test at right time based on my counting?  Even if I had tested at 27 days, could I still consider my test conclusive?  I guess what I'm asking yet again is, can I absolutely move on with no worries that I am infected or will become infected from this incident?  My rational side (which is rather weak these days) is telling me what I think you're telling me. There was no risk to begin with, hence, with a negative test (maybe even one that was one day too soon) there's NO chance of infection now or later.  Even if other "symptoms" develop or these continue, there's NO way they are hiv related?? I can safely have unprotected sex with my wife.  Something along those lines.  I'm seeing my gp next week to check on some of these ongoing symptoms.  I have a strong feeling that he'll tell me what he's been telling me regarding this all along, and that it's mainly from stress and unwarranted worrying.  Okay...I'll stop!  Thank you for your help!  You've saved another life this week, whether you realize that or not.   What a blessing you are! And,  I hope I didn't offend you with the "Handsfield Hammer" comment; I meant it as a high compliment!  Your "tough love" is very effective and as I said, it serves as a wake up call.  Thanks again for all you do and what you are!!  I hope you realize the blessing and Saint you are!
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
87 months ago
OK, I give up. How many times do you need to have the same answers in different words? All your statements of understanding are correct.

This will have to be your last question on this topic. Repetative anxiety driven questions are not permitted; if you return again with variations on these same questions, the thread will be deleted without reply and without refund of the posting fee. 

Thanks for the thanks. Take care and stay safe.