[Question #1303] HIV concern

47 months ago
Hi there! I have recently become paranoid about the possibility of having contracted HIV. I was in an 8 month relationship that ended mid- July. We had quite a lot of unprotected vaginal sex (I am female) and anal sex once (only for a few seconds). 2 weeks after this relationship ended I got routine tested for STDs- HIV (rapid blood test), gonorrhea, chlamydia. All negative. I should add that I am a frequent blood donor and donated blood about a month after ending this relationship, the donation was accepted (I have never had an issue donating blood and WAS NOT using this as a means of testing, rather I was not yet concerned at this point). I then learned later on that this person had multiple women that he was having sex with at the same time as me, and he has a very promiscuous past sex life. Being a hypochondriac I noticed swollen lymph nodes in my neck and possibly in my groin. My Dr. didn't seem concerned by them at this time. To ease my mind I took an Oraquick test that I bought at CVS yesterday, as it has now been a little over 12 weeks since I last had contact with this individual. It was negative. My worries about HIV have been constant and my question is as follows- Do I have any more reason to worry, or am I conclusively negative? Is any further testing warranted- or can I forget about HIV and move on with my life? I have recently entered a new relationship and I think my anxiety may be coming from the fact that I want it to continue going well. Thanks in advance for your help. 
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
47 months ago
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your question.

You have given 100% proof you weren't infected with HIV during the exposures you are concerned about. Blood banks use a combination of HIV tests, including both direct tests for HIV RNA and antibody. That your blood was accepted proves you had negative results on those test and could not possibly have HIV. 

All the other information you provide is, in a sense, superfluous. In any case, a male partner like yours is statistically unlikely to have HIV, which in the US remains very dominantly a problem in gay men and those who use injection drugs and share needles. In other words, heterosexual promiscuity, by itself, is pretty low risk for HIV. Second, the average risk to women for each unprotected vaginal sex exposure, if the male has HIV, is around 1 in a thousand. So even if you had sex 100 times during the 8 months you were together, the odds would still be strongly in your favor. Third, your symptoms are not suggestive of a new HIV infection. Fourth, you also have had the negative oral fluids test; that test, at 3 months, also is conclusive.

So all is well -- for sure you don't have HIV, and that has been 100% certain since your blood donation two months ago. I'm sorry to hear you have had the extra couple months of worry, but also very glad to hear you have been tested for more common STDs, with negative results.

I wish you well in your new relationship. You can proceed with all the romance I hope it offers, with no worries. Let me know if anything isnb't clear.

HHH, MD

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47 months ago
Thanks so much for your informative reply Dr. Handsfield. One last question- had my timeline been off and say, worst case, that I donated blood just two weeks after last seeing this person, would you still consider that to be conclusive? I was confident in my timeline and now I am questioning myself as I think about it more. Thanks again
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
47 months ago
At two weeks, your test result would be closer to 90% conclusive rather than 100%. Still very good. Anyway, you should be able to work out the timeline accurately, and I'm betting your initial 4 week interval was correct. But you also had the negative Oraquick test at 3 months. That result also is conclusive, all by itself. So do your best to stop obsessing about this. For sure you don't have HIV. 


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47 months ago
If my timeline was incorrect then my Oraquick test may have been taken a little earlier than 3 months, however I greatly appreciate your reassurance and will try to stop thinking about this. Thanks!
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
47 months ago
My judgment that you are not infected isn't based only your test results, but all the available information:  low risk partner, not all that many exposures, no symptoms to suggest a new HIV infection, plus both the early and later tests. The chance that all those could be wrong is zero for all practical purposes. Truly, no worries!

That completes the two follow-up comments and replies included with each question, and so ends this thread. Best wishes and stay safe!

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