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Sexually Transmitted Diseases/HIV risk? Possible conversion symptoms?


Three weeks ago I went to a medical laboratory where they tested for my blood group. I knew the nurse there and she did it herself. She opened a new needle and pricked my finger tip. Then she picked a (new) glass slide from a neat stack and wiped the blood coming on my finger with the corners of the slide before dipping it into the solution. I didn't see any blood on the slide before but I didn't really look. I chatted to the nurse for about 5 minutes before getting my blood drawn and they didn't seem to be working there very recently either.

2-3 weeks later I develop this strange 'cold' - vague headache, vague dizziness, feeling a fullness in my throat (but not sore) and behind my nose, feeling my head heavy and hurts when I move my eyes. I get a couple of swollen lymph nodes in my upper neck - small (7-8mm), very soft and mobile, a bit tender. My throat is a bit reddish with a few whitish patches but it doesn't hurt. I got another tender lymph node in my groin yesterday, but it's tiny and very soft as well (5mm). I've been having this for 4 days.

I have no fever, no sore throat, no runny nose, not much fatigue and it happened after a few weeks of being extremely stressed out. I have been tested for HIV regularly (last time 1 month ago) and I am very very careful about exposure. I don't have unprotected sex, etc.

Is it likely that I have been exposed to HIV from that lab procedure? Can these be the conversion symptoms of HIV? Or more likely something else?

Hello Cristina,
It is very unlikely that your vague viral symptoms are in any way related to HIV from a suspected contact from a blood typing procedure. It does sound very much like the usual fall viruses associated with an upper respiratory infection; or it could be strep throat or a combination of several things. HIV requires an actual exposure of viable virus into your body, which does not sound like what you experienced.

Good luck!

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Mark P. Behar


Almost any question or concern about gay men's health issues, sexually transmitted infections, abnormal Pap smears, anal cytology (anal "Pap smears"), etc. There is no such thing as “d/d free” or “clean” (free of infection), so why do so many of us deceive ourselves into thinking that some people are indeed totally free from a potentially infectious disease, like HIV, herpes, hepatitis, syphilis, chlamydia, warts, gonorrhea, etc., just because they say so? Clinical laboratory tests are not perfect, and having a “negative” or “nonreactive” test does not mean that a person is free from infection. Perhaps at the moment the test was taken, the person was uninfected; or, perhaps, the test wasn’t sensitive enough to detect presence of the infection. There is really no way that anyone can determine that they are truly “disease free,” and there are over a hundred of infectious conditions that can be spread without your knowing anything. Rather than trying to “pre-screen” or “serosort” a potential sex-mate with deceptive questions that are impossible to know by today’s technologies, a wiser option may be to consider everyone infected with something, and either use appropriate protective measures (“safer sex”), or accept the responsibility and consequences of possibly “catching” something from someone who’s hotter than expected (pun intended!). There is much research that supports the contention that an HIV positive person reliably taking HIV medications, and having an undetectable viral load, presents a lower risk for transmission of HIV than people who may think or say they are HIV negative, but are not. Food for thought!


Family Practice PA since 1981; Volunteer Clinician for Brady East STD (BESTD) Clinic, Milwaukee, since 1977; answered STD questions submitted to their web site. Professionally lectured at national and regional Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner conferences, and at national gay & lesbian health conferences on topics including HIV/AIDS, herpes, hepatitis, STDs, human papilloma virus (the cause of venereal warts), abnormal Pap smears, gay and lesbian health issues, among others.

Co-Founder, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Gay Physician Assistant Caucus of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, Inc.; American Academy of Physician Assistants; Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants; National Co-Chair (2012-16), National Association of Black and White Men Together: A Gay, Multiracial Organization for All People (NABWMT)

Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAPA) Q Visions, Quarterly Newsletter of the NABWMT

Bachelor's of Arts, 1972 (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI) Graduate Credits Experimental Psychology, 1972-75 (Tulane University, New Orleans, LA) Physician Assistant, Bachelor's of Science, 1981 (George Washington University, Washington, DC); Masters in Physician Assistant Studies, 2000 (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE)

Awards and Honors
Colposcopy Recognition Award (CRA), the American Association of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology; Distinguished Fellow, Clinical Preceptor, American Academy of Physician Assistants; Fellow, Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants

Past/Present Clients
Brady East STD Clinic, Milwaukee, WI Milwaukee Health Services, Inc. (Martin Luther King Heritage Health Center), Dept. of Family Medicine and Early Intervention Program for HIV Infected Persons

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