Subject:  Thanks a lot (1/7/02)

Q.      Hi John,

Thanks for your site.  I was so terrified about HIV infection recently because I got a cold in early December, and it was really bad.  I gave unprotected oral sex this summer and I had unprotected oral/anal sex with another guy this summer as well (I received anal sex and gave oral sex).  When I had anal sex, the guy fucked me briefly, then I made him put on a condom when I came to my senses.  Well in my first encounter I got sick immediately afterwards.  But after the second encounter I didn't get sick.  So I got really sick early in December and I freaked out!  In fact, this cold was accompanied by nosebleeds, I got really scared.  Then I heard about ARS, and I said, “Holy shit, I could have HIV!”  These two sexual encounters were the only two encounters I had in my whole life.  So is my chance of infection low?

A.      Well, there are a few factors you left out, but I would say your chances of infection are low, but not non-existent.  As for the sicknesses you’ve had, I would doubt those are ARS symptoms since ARS doesn’t usually appear as a “cold”, at least not with typical cold symptoms like runny-nose and coughing, but the only way to know for sure is to be tested.  Getting sick immediately following an exposure or a few months later is not common at all, and very likely is not related to HIV.  You also have to consider the likelihood if your partner was in fact HIV positive?  Did you discuss this with him?  What did you know about his sexual history?  Did you believe him?  Did you have cuts or sores in your mouth?  Did he cum in your mouth?  Did you notice any pre-cum?  These are all factors that may affect the risk level.  Performing unprotected oral sex on a man and a brief unprotected anal sex encounter are relatively low-risk, but not no risk.  If you are concerned, enough time has probably elapsed for you to get tested.  Getting tested should alleviate your fears and is much better than wondering “what if”.  From what you’ve said, I would say the odds are definitely in your favor, but the best thing would be to go get tested.  

You mention that these were the first sexual encounters in your life, which may be adding to your anxiety.  I’m assuming that you’ve just recently began “coming out of the closet” and probably have a lot of apprehension about being gay and what gay sex is all about.  Just remember being gay and having HIV are not synonymous.  I went through a similar experience myself.  The first time I had anal sex with a guy, I used no protection at all.  Despite the fact that I knew his sexual history and trusted that he was as sex naïve as I was, I became nervous about HIV and felt the need to get tested, which I did.  I guess at that time, I was still convinced myself that being gay meant not asking if I would get HIV but when.  I’m not even sure from your question if you are having problems being gay, or if you’re even gay at all (you didn’t mention your gender in your question), but I felt I should hop on that soap box for a moment :-).  Hope things turn out well for you, and feel free to let me know.

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