"Am I Having Symptoms of HIV/AIDS?"

People often send an email to AIDSvideos.org or the AIDSvideos account on YouTube asking whether symptoms they are experiencing (such as swollen lymph nodes, night sweats, fatigue, flulike symptoms, sore throat, etc.) are being caused by HIV/AIDS. Here is the standard response we send back to this question.



This is Eric Krock. Thank you for submitting your inquiry to our web site. For a variety of reasons, Dr. Kuhn is unable to respond to individual inquiries of this nature.

I am not a doctor and I have no medical training, but here are a few quick responses to your message from me personally. I am not acting on Dr. Kuhn's behalf. She has not reviewed or approved this message, and you should not interpret this message as medical advice.

First, sending a question to a web site by email is no substitute for getting an in-person evaluation by a medical doctor. Everyone should get regular checkups. Anyone who has been sexually active, has shared needles, or thinks they may have been exposed to HIV should be tested for HIV. In fact, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that ALL people age 15-64 be tested for HIV at a routine doctor's office visit whether or not they think they are at risk for HIV. Your doctor can explain how many HIV tests are right for you and on what schedule. Your doctor can also tell you after what number and kind of tests and time period after your last possible exposure that you can be sure you are in fact HIV-.

So I encourage you to make an appointment with a medical doctor, discuss your risk factors, concerns, and symptoms if any, and to get tested for HIV. Make sure to follow all the doctor's instructions including any follow-up testing.

If you're wondering about the risk of contracting HIV in a single unprotected encounter of a particular type, the wikipedia article on HIV has a good table showing the estimated risk for different kinds of sexual practices. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiv.

We also have some videos that address these and related questions:

What's the Risk That I Have Contracted HIV?
http://youtube.com/watch?v=mGhOrC2Ub7M

Did I Just Contract HIV? Symptoms of Primary HIV Infection
http://youtube.com/watch?v=C_94fmY2KL4

Do I Have AIDS? Symptoms of AIDS
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRBflFVqFNI

Why EVERY Person Should Be Tested for HIV
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgub30uE1Kw

Some Ways You Can Contract HIV and the Risk of Each One
http://youtube.com/watch?v=Ojx1A3Jmx2w

We have also posted new videos that answer common questions about HIV tests:

The Top Ten Questions About HIV Tests
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjDPCoj4ElA

The Top Ten Reasons to Take an HIV Test
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSopKLQ6jHg

As far as your specific symptoms go, the important thing is for you to make an appointment with a medical doctor, tell them all of your symptoms and risk factors for HIV or other conditions, and let them diagnose whether there is something wrong, and if so, what. Do not let your fear of a specific diagnosis deter you from seeing a doctor. Symptoms can be caused by all kinds of things--including stress!--and have many possible explanations. Only a medical doctor can diagnose their cause. It's simply not possible for us to provide any individual diagnosis or guidance over the Internet. Just get tested. Then you'll know the answer, will be empowered with knowledge, and will be better off than you are now regardless of whether your result is HIV- or HIV+.

Please do not reply to this email account. Due to the possibility of nuisance messages from HIV denialists, this account's inbox is not monitored. If you wish to send a follow-up message, use the email address here: http://aidsvideos.org/contact.shtml

Best wishes, and see a doctor,

Eric

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