[Question #1200] Worried (Towel and Dildo)

50 months ago
Dear Doctors,

Thank you for this service.

I am a gay man. in June and July of this year I visited a gay sauna twice.  I never got involved with anyone, but masturbated by myself on both occasions. Afterwards I wiped my penis head with the towel they provided.

Around about this time, I also purchased a new dildo from a shop and even though I did not clean it the first time I used it, I always used it with a condom.

I always thought these were safe sex activities; but just to on the safe side (and because I am a bit of a hypochondriac), I went to my local Gum clinic just over 4 weeks after the event for HIV test. I had to wait a week for my results, but they turned out negative.

Soon after I phoned my GUM clinic to confirm that it was a 4th Gen Duo test they had used. The woman I spoke to confirmed this and told me that if I have taken the test 4 weeks after the events then if the test was negative, I was indeed negative. Relived, I continued using the dildo with condoms for little while afterwards (I never shared with anyone).

The day after I took my HIV test, I pricked myself with a solid pin that someone had given me at work. Even though I believed solid pins pose no risk; this added to my worries. I did not think Prep would be necessary for this, especially as I was waiting for my results. I was thinking I was getting a bit paranoid. 

The thing is; in the past two weeks I have had a dreadful rasping cough with mucus (no other symptoms, no flu like symptoms). This has made some people suggest I see my Dr, even though I feel fine otherwise (but my fears tell me the worse). Could this be HIV /ARS related?

I am presently seeing a councillor about my concerns.

Any advice would be helpful, thank you.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
50 months ago

Welcome to the Forum.  I will be pleased to comment on the information that you have provided.  the short and most direct answer is that from what you say, I see no reason at all for you to be concerned about HIV, that nothing you have described suggests that you should be taking PrEP, and that there is no need for testing related to the events you describe.  I applaud that you are working with a counselor to address your fears.

In a bit more detail, use of a dildo, with our with a condom, that had not immediately been used on another person is a no risk event which should not concern you at all.  Similarly, since blood can not stay inside of a solid pin, as it can with a hollow point needle, the pin prick you describe at work should not worry you either- it too was a no risk event.

As for your symptoms, a productive cough of the sort you describe is not a sign of the ARS and is most likely simply a cold or upper respiratory tract infection unrelated to any risk for HIV.  This is in no way suggestive of the ARS.

I hope these comments will comfort you and help you to not worry.  Nothing you describe suggests HIV in any way. There is no reason for concern, no reason for testing, and certainly no reason for PrEP.  EWH

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50 months ago
Dear Dr Hook,

Thank you for your reply.

You have certainly helped me with my worries.

I have always been fearful of HIV, hence a testing centre suggested I see a councillor.

The fact that I had a negative HIV Duo test certainly means I can count anything before those 4 weeks safe and as you say a new dildo just used with me is not going to infect me either.

The needle incident was just another bad luck thing what has happened to me recently; just as this pesky fierce cough is.

All these things seem to come together.

Just want to say how much I appreciate the the work and service, Dr Handsfield and yourself do. I used to read your advice on Medhelp and was very sad when your service suddenly came to an end.

You and Dr Handsfield were among the first to champion the 4th Gen Duo test at 4 weeks; and here in the UK where I live; this is standard and accepted practice in most NHS and private clinic's and accepted advice from the BASHH.

I am glad you have found a new home with American Sexual Health Association Website.

Best regards. 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
50 months ago

Thank or your appreciation, I am glad that you found my comments helpful.  I can understand how, particularly if you are "looking for" connections and symptoms that the things you mention might be related rather than coincidence which is what has most likely happened.  As I said, you need not worry.

Take Care.  EWH

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50 months ago
Dear Dr Hook,

I went to see my Doctor today about my cough, as it is coming into the 3rd week.

He told me that I have had a viral infection, that my immune system has fought it and the cough is the after effect (with the mucus).

I take it that such cough would be caused by a cold  virus (which is not ARS related)  because if I had had flu I would have known it?

I know I am putting connection's again. Sorry for being a pain,  but this I know will be the last query because I know I can only ask 3 question's (and this will close my thread).

Thank you for your help.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
50 months ago
You are correct.  It sounds like you have a cold, not HIV.  If you had The ARS due to HIV, you would be sic, have HIGH fever, and muscle aches.  A cough is not part of recently acquired HIV.

As you know, this thread will be closed later this evening.  Please don't worry.  EWH
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50 months ago
Thank you for your time and patience.