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More on HIV symptoms

stop aids signI previously wrote an article on early HIV symptoms.

I am still receiving a lot of questions with regards to HIV symptoms so I am writing another article to provide more details.

What is HIV ARS?

When people talk about ‘HIV symptoms’ they are generally referring to the symptoms that appear soon (2 to 6 weeks) after a person is infected with HIV (as opposed to late AIDS symptoms which take years to develop).

These symptoms are a result of the body mounting an immune response to the HIV infection, NOT due to the infection itself. That is why you find similar or identical symptoms with other infections.

It is also commonly known as Acute-Retroviral Syndrome (ARS, ARVS), acute primary HIV illness, acute HIV syndrome and Acute Sero-Conversion Syndrome.

HIV Symptoms are due to the immune system responding to the virus that is why many other infections can cause the same symptoms.

What are the early symptoms of HIV infection?

Because the whole body is reacting to fight off the virus, it is not surprising to find a variety symptoms affecting all bodily systems.

General – Fever, Sweats, Lethargy, Malaise, swollen lymph nodes, weight loss

Skin – Rash, ulcers , Sore throat

Digestive – Nausea, Diarrhea, Loss of Appetite

Neurological – Headache

Musculo-Skeletal – Muscle aches, Joint aches

Not everyone will develop all these symptoms. These symptoms can develop in varying combinations.  The most common symptoms are fever, sore throat, rash and swollen lymph nodes.

Only 40% to 70% of people infected with HIV will develop ARS symptoms

Who gets HIV ARS symptoms?

It is estimated that between 50% to 90% (some say 40% to 70%) of people who have been infected with HIV will develop HIV ARS. There is no way to predict who will develop ARS and who will not.

When do HIV symptoms appear and how long do they last?

HIV symptoms can appear anytime between 2 weeks and 6 weeks after infection. Most people who do develop the symptoms do so at 3 weeks.

Symptoms generally last for at least 2 weeks but have been known to last up to 10 weeks.

‘Flu-like’ is not ‘Cold-like’

HIV ARS symptoms are often described as ‘Flu-Like’. Many people think having a Flu is similar to having a Cold and this has led to a lot of confusion.

Many patients see me for minor cold symptoms such as running nose, sore throat or a mild cough and are worried to death about HIV.  These are Cold symptoms, they are not Flu symptoms.

For those of you who have had the Flu before, you will know what I am talking about. With a Flu, you will be very sick. The fever is high and persistent, the bodyache is very bad and you literally cannot get out of bed.

To be more precise, ARS is also described as mononucleosis-like symptoms.

The HIV ARS Rash

This is a great source of worry for many people I see. I have seen people coming in with literally one tiny red dot on their forearm convinced that it was a HIV rash. It is not.

The HIV rash usually comes on 2 to 3 days after the onset of the fever and lasts for at least 2 weeks. It is a Morbiliform (looks like measles) Exanthem rash consisting of macules and papules up to 1cm in diameter which are pink to red in colour. Each lesion remains discrete and do not become confluent. It is widespread and always (100%) involves the upper thorax and collar region also commonly (60% to 40%) affects the face, arms, scalp, thighs and palms in descending order of frequency.

Basically, the rash is BAD. Your friends and colleagues are going to take one look at you and ask ‘Hey why do you have a rash? Go see a doctor’.  If you have to hunt for individual spots or patches randomly on your skin, it is not a HIV rash.

The HIV ARS Rash looks like Measles

The HIV ARS Fever

Where do I start? I have patients measuring their temperatures hourly and freaking out when it hits 37.1⁰C because they read somewhere that ‘normal body temperature’ is 36.9⁰C and therefore they have a fever and therefore they have HIV. That is paranoia.

The HIV ARS Fever is high, usually above 38.5⁰C when taken from the ear.  The HIV ARS Fever is long, usually lasting for at least 2 weeks most of the time longer. It is usually associated with other symptoms such as lethargy, malaise, muscle aches and joint aches.

The HIV ARS Lymph Nodes

This is another great source of worry. I have seen patients who cannot stop rubbing their necks feeling for lymph nodes and melting into a panic state whenever they feel a lump that they have not felt before.

First of all, you can feel normal non-enlarged lymph nodes especially in thin people. So being able to palpate a lymph node does NOT mean it is enlarged.

Enlarged lymph nodes are about 1cm in diameter. In HIV ARS, there are usually many of such lymph nodes in the neck, groin and underarms. They are usually tender (i.e. painful to touch).

The HIV ARS Sore Throat and Mouth Ulcers

The sore throat associated with HIV ARS is bad. It is not a little discomfort in the throat or the sensation of having to clear your throat. It is painful. If you ever had Strep Throat before, it feels like that.

It is commonly described as an exudative tonsillitis. In other words, you will be able to see white or yellow pus-like substance on the tonsils. The tonsils themselves will be red and swollen. About 20% of the time, there are also ulcers round to oval in shape, 5mm to 10mm in diameter with a white base and red halo on the inside gums, tonsils or roof of the mouth.

Anxiety can frequently cause the muscles around the throat to tighten leading to some throat discomfort. This is NOT HIV.

What other diseases have the same symptoms as HIV ARS?

First of all, the Flu. And by that I mean an Influenza infection, not a cold. See above for details.

HIV ARS symptoms also mimic the symptoms of infectious mononucleosis very closely (also known as Mono or Glandular Fever). HIV ARS symptoms can also be mistaken for an acute Hepatitis A or B infection, Parvovirus infection, Cytomegalovirus infection and Toxoplasmosis. It can even be mistaken for Rubella (German Measles).

Take  home message: Do not assume and do not self-diagnose based on symptoms. Go get tested.

Click here for HIV Testing FAQ


The only way to know for sure if you are infected with HIV or not is to get tested. Until that is done, try not to worry about your symptoms.

If you have to worry, then worry if you fulfil the following criteria:

  1. You have had a high risk exposure 2 to 6 weeks ago
  2. You have a fever above 38.5⁰C that just does not go away
  3. You have multiple small red spots covering your face, neck and upper chest
  4. You have a really bad sore throat with ulcers in your mouth
  5. You have been diagnosed with another STD like Gonorrhea or Chlamydia
Click here to learn about other factors that increase HIV risk

If you had a high risk exposure to HIV within the past 72 hours, you can take medicines to reduce your risk of actually contracting HIV. Find out more on HIV PEP Treatment.

Click here for info on PEP Treatment at Our Clinic

Remember, you are not doing yourself any good by hunting for symptoms. Take a deep breath, calm down and focus on getting the HIV tests done.

Click here for Info on STD Symptoms in Men
Click here for Info on STD Symptoms in Women
Click here to see the full range of our HIV/STD Services



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If you had a high risk exposure to HIV within the past 72 hours, you can take medicines to reduce your risk of actually contracting HIV. Find out more on HIV PEP Treatment.

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If you have any questions, visit our free online forum on sexual health, HIV and STDs.

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About Dr. Tan
Dr. Tan graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2001. His residency was in the two largest public hospitals in Singapore; Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Singapore General Hospital.

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  1. 1st of all on 19 january, i received bj from massage gurl and i cum inside her mouth.. on 23 january i had swollen lymph node behind my left ear until now.. i had hiv tested on 1 february with combo p24 and antibody, and all came out negative.. i had no other symptom include fever, but it seem my swollen lymph node on behind my ear still there.. already got antibiotic from doc for 7 day, the doc said it is because of my sinus.. the doc also said the swollen lymph node is getting small, but im curious why it take to long until now.. now i feel uneasy on rigth armpit, seem like there are lymph node starting to show up.. should i get tested again and is it the symptom of hiv???

  2. Hi Doc,

    Insomia is symptoms of hiv? Please advice. Thanks

    • Insomnia*

    • Bobby

      In my opinion, Insomnia may be a symptom of other mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. If you are experiencing poor sleep and you are concerned , I suggest that you see a doctor for further assessment.

  3. Hi Doc,

    Im having massage and i didnt do anything except handjob and lick tits. And 2 days later i have itchy skin and yesterday im having insomnia. Is this HIV symptoms?

    Your answer is really appreciated

    • Tom

      There is no risk of HIV transmission in this case.
      However, In view of skin to skin contact there is risk of getting scabies (mites) –which is a type of STD.
      I recommend you getting examined by your doctor .

  4. Hey doc i had unprotected sex 8weeks ago for the last 5days i have had really bad nausea i have no stomach pains just keep getting that watery feeling in my mouth i have no loss of appetite either but i do have a slight dry cough the girl i slept with got tested at 6weeks and everything came back fine but i know u have to wait atleast 3month now she has come down with a really bad flu , any suggestions on what it could be ?

    • Not all patients who are infected with HIV will develop sero-conversion symptoms.
      Your symptoms maybe because of other medical conditions.
      However since there was risk of exposure, I suggest that you talk to your doctor about HIV and STD testing.

  5. Doctor,
    My doctor suggested PeP after 14 days of possible exposure, 4 weeks post pep: Elisa, RNA pcr, duo came negative, 6 weeks duo came negative.
    It’s been 8 weeks i am having severe throat infection and fever from past two days.
    Is it seroconversion? Please help

    • It’s been 8 weeks after PeP , 14 weeks post exposure.
      I have throat infection and fever, will seroconversion happen at this time?

    • Official guidelines recommend testing at 3-6 months for patients who have undergone PEP.
      Not all patients who are infected with HIV will develop sero-conversion symptoms.
      Your symptoms maybe because of other medical conditions. , I suggest that you talk to your doctor about it.

      • 14 days rna pcr quantitative is negative before going for pep, can I take this result for confirmation?

  6. I have had unprotected sex a strep throat a uti and headaches i went to the doctor i have normal blood levels my anxiety is killing me

    • Apologies, We are unable to make a diagnosis online .
      You may need to checked if your throat symptoms are related to oral gonorrhoea .
      In my opinion , you will need to be tested for HIV and STD in view that you had unprotected sex.

  7. hi doc

    I recently had protected oral,anal and vaginal sex with a escort 12 days ago.it was my first encounter with a escort. 3 days after seeing the escort I had swollen glands under my arm.. I have been experiencing headaches..and pains in my lower back especially when I lay on my side… Iam terrified that I caught something because the condom was not changed from oral to anal…I have been to the doctor had my hiv test done an std screening taken… will repeat those tests in April once I pass the 3 month mark

  8. Hi doctor, i had sex with a positute at geylang on 5jan2016. Those house having licence at lorong18. We did using condom when during sexual intercourse. However she do blowjob on my penis without condom. Until since them till now, that is my last sex. Yesterday 22jan16 i wake up i having sorethroat. Today is my 2nd day sorethroat. May i ask did i got hiv ? And when is the best time to check and confirm i did not got hiv ? Please reply me asap thank you very much

    • There are many tests available for HIV. Some can be done at 10 days post exposure some 3 months. You should come to see us for a consultation and to determine what kind of tests you require.

  9. By doctor had unprotected sex with an HIV positive woman without knowing he status at the time had the following tests up to date…..negative Elisa duo after 32 day…..Negative Elisa duo after 47 days and a negative antibody test after 52 days just wanna ask if my tests are conclusive or should I continue testing?

    • In my opinion your tests are conclusive. However, I am not in a position to verify the accuracy of your test results. For that you should see your doctor.

  10. Very worries

    Hi Dr. I would like to acquire some details about as I am extremely worried, I had a nude massage exactly 37 days ago, my body seems to have rashes at my shoulder, I am having a the lack to sleep and I am sweating on my feet and palm and I little coughing, also with muscle aching,no fever at all. We used condom, but she did gave me a bj before using it, and her vaginal liquid did touches my leg. Is it possible that I might be infected?? Ur reply is very appreciated, thx doc.

  11. Hi,
    Doc, im now very worry about myself…bcoz i having mild fever for 4days continue, even i eat penadol , still wast cure my fever. I have been oral sex with a night club girl . on 6jan after few days im encounters fever and mild sore throats, ist i having HIV ARS symptom?
    I was very worry. So the best to go have a test is 2 weeks later?

    • Fever and sore throat are so common that a healthy individual gets it 3-4 times a year on average. Why is HIV the first thing that comes to your mind?
      Your risk of contracting HIV is low.
      If you are worried, get tested 2 weeks from exposure. Best would be 28 days.

  12. Hi,doctor
    I having oral sex with a girl 6th jan…after that i get fever 10thjan and fever comt untill now…so ist this is the systhom i get infected? I should go for a chk ?

  13. Hi doctor,

    Sometime in November, I received unprotected oral sex and protected sex with an escort. For the last two weeks, I have been passing loose stools every morning. It only happens every morning. Is it normal? Or is it a sign?

  14. Hi Dr. Tan, I’m from the Philippines. I had sex with a man who I just recently discovered was positive with HIV. I was the bottom that time, we had anal sex for about 5 to 7 minutes but we used a condom. I think it was November 5, 2016. I had a test back in December 7, 2016 with Architect HIV Ag/Ab Combo and it was non-reactive. I was still anxious so I took another test, this time, with SD Bioline HIV 1/2 3.0 – I think a third generation antibody test. Non-reactive. Do you think I should stop worrying? It has caused me sleepless nights and I am beginning to feel symptoms but not really flu-like as you described although I do blame everything on restlessness and lack of sleep.

  15. Doc, 2 weeks ago I had protected vaginal sex with a massage parlour in jakarta, as far as I remember she give me quite a longtime for handjob and then i did vaginal sex and it lasts only about 5 minutes and I come inside the vagina with condom still intact with my penis, I ask her whether she had std or not, she said no and I dont really trust her, am I really risky to hiv?
    Now I feel like i had some joint pain, itches on my armpit and there’s a small like vertical black line at my left pointed finger, am really scares please tell me what to do, been worrying sick since last night, and been having nausea for the past days, please help doc

    • Condoms reduce the risk of HIV and STDs however are not 100% protective. In order to be sure if you are infected or not, the best thing to do is to go for screening tests.

  16. Worried

    Hi Doctors,

    I had an unprotected oral (insertive) and protected vaginal encounter with a local freelance SW on 16 Dec at 11pm.

    I took a test (I believe its the 4th Gen Combo test) at your clinic on 3 Jan (15-16 days post exposure) with a non-reactive result. On the night of 4 Jan I experienced some tingling sensation on a small patch of my right and left arms, lasted overnight and subsided once I applied some water to the affected area. Have been feeling on-off fatigue as well. Could this be ARS?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Worried

      My apologies, I’ve also had a white tongue and slight sore throat since day 10, white tongue is gradually getting better but sore throat remains (improves with home remedies).

  17. Hi dr.. i have unprotected sex 0n 28th dec wif a guy without me noeing as he took his condom out b4 insertion. I realised he didnt wear a condom aftwr 2 stroke.. and ask him to take out. But b4 that i do oral on him and also ejavulate in his mouth.now i feel like having fever with temp arnd 37.7 while body ache. Shuld i go for hiv test now or qait for 2 weeks period

  18. Hi there, thank you for all the online work you’ve done so far, I started pep because of an exposure from non-protected sex with a stranger and just to be sure i am on pep to eliminate any risk, it’s been 3 days now I do have some of the side effects but very rare but what concerns me is a tooth ache that started a day after the treatment and is getting worse, it hurts a lot now and i can’t eat anything, it gets better with Tylenol but is it normal this side effect? and what to do? thanks

    • I think you should bring this up to the doctor who prescribed you the PEP.

  19. Hello, I just wanted to ask why this is happening to me. I have an unprotected anal sex for the first time. I am the top and before we had our unprotected anal sex, he showed me a test result in which he is NON-REACTIVE. The result was done on October 30 but we have had our sex on November 24. Now, I did not cum inside because my penis suddenly get soft inside of him. Although the anal sex went for like 10 minutes. After that, I had my test on December 6 in which I was NON-REACTIVE but the stress starts consuming me. I did not have any proper sleep and before we had sex, I feel already feel I have cough and a bit of stuffy nose. On day 15 after the encounter, I felt quite bad. I don’t know if this is the flu like symptoms but I’m scared because it happened to be exactly 2 weeks. I had my temperature from 37.5 degree Celsius to 37.8 degree Celsius. Also, my sore throat is not that bad but I feel it has yellow spots on the tonsils. I did not have any rash at all. Although, I feel the lymph nodes which is in the a little bit back of my ears. I have had a headache that time. Though I can eat properly, no body pains, and no diarrhea. I don’t feel tired and no night sweats. I always think that it is just tonsillitis but I can’t stay still because I’m too nervous. Now, December 30, I have this pimple-like spots on my torso and on my butt cheeks. Some were itchy and some were not. Could it be that I have already HIV? How easy it is to contact HIV on first encounter? Please enlighten me because it’s already consuming me. Fear and stress is consuming me.

    • The fact is you had unprotected anal sex with a partner whose status you are not sure of. I think it will be safe to assume that there is a risk of HIV. I am not saying the risk is high or low. I also agree that you are freaking out because it has been less than a week and you have managed to convince yourself that all your symptoms are due to HIV ARS. You really need to calm down and just go for HIV/STD testing.

  20. I had gonorrhea once. An after a week of treatment i recieved blowjob from anynomous. Since then, i’m freakout like hell. Even small red dot on my body will give me 8. And now after 5 weeks (31st day) of last potential exposure (unprotected blowjob) i have stiffen neck, a part of underarm. I always touch there and push it little bit until it feel pain but no swell. And now it’s freaking me out. I got hiv tested 25th days after the last pontential exposure and gladly it came non-reactive. But kinda right now after 31st day last potential exposure i feel like i’m half dead thinking about these symptoms (small dots, stiffen neck muscle and below than armpit mussle). What should i do dr? Please help me. I thinking about this almost every hour and sometimes i think i want to run away from everyone i know.

    • Even small dots on my arm will give me hell. I always touch my neck and armpits to search gor lymph nodes and pushed until i found the nodes and now i feel pain around the places there but no swollen. I recieved blowjob after a week my gonorrhea got treated. 25th days after last potential exposure (blowjob) i got rapid test and the result is non-reactive. That 25th days is 73th days last potential exposure and got gonorrhea. I might have hiv? I’m afriad to death. Please help me. I’m sorry for my very bad english, grammartical error here and there. English is not my first language. Sorry and please help me. What should i do?

      • So is it 25 days or 73 days? Either way, it sounds very much to me like you need to see a psychiatrist. The risk of getting HIV from oral sex is negligible. Please read our article on getting HIV from oral sex.

        • Tq for the reply dr. I don’t know who to ask. I’m really glad that you reply me. Thanks again dr. I did rapid test on 25 days after the last i recieved oral (more than 30 minutes per orals and that orals are within a week after gonorrhea got treated) and that day is to be 73 days i had highly potential exposure (where i got gonorrhea from this highly potential exposure). I don’t know wether the wound of gonorrhea is complete healed or not but the discharge is no more. The test was done is rapid test. I don’t really know what generation it is but ‘rapid test’ written on the plastic. It is conclusive or should i do another test?

          • Rapid test after 25 days last oral, that 25 days is to be exact 75 days after last highly potential exposure (unprotected sex). The result came negative. Should i take another test or can i call it conclusive? Cause i recieved orals within a week after gonorrhea got treated. I don’t know the wound that caused by gonorrhea completely healed or not but there is no more discharge. More than 30 minutes of oral could be more saliva, deepthroat, and wound of gonorrhea, or maybe they have sore/cut. I’m totally stress. Why am i so stupid? I will do this no more after this. I promised.

  21. I had a high risk exposure about 2 months ago (unprotected sex with a female multiple times in one day) and a few weeks ago came down with a fever that lasted a day and a half along with mild diarrhea a few times. It seemed as if i recovered fairly quickly, feeling alright a few days later but then the fever came back again, lasted for a day and subsided. For over three weeks now i have had on and off fever presenting like this, ive probably lost a few kilos have been feeling malaise and just slightly unwell ever since. I have also been travelling recently in the caribean and south american jungles so i am aware i was at risk of many things. Had a antigen/antibody test with the doctor here 2 months after exposure that came back negative but with this persisting illness – coming up to one month, and lack of other explanation i have become really anxious of the hiv possibility and now almost cant differentiate between feeling slightly unwell and my general anxiety. Could you please give me advice on my situation??

    • As far as my opinion goes, a HIV Combo test at 2 months post exposure is more than enough to conclude that you do not have HIV. You should see a doctor and find out the cause of your symptoms. Sounds like some kind of tropical disease. Malaria? Typhoid? Pinta? Yaws?

  22. Hi Doc

    I followed your advice and went to see my doctor for a HIV and STD test this week. My results came back Negative. I had blood takin on DAY 21 after a possible exposer. The laboratory did a Ag/Ab COMBO test.
    Is a Ag/Ab combo test takin on day 21 100% ?
    Do i need to go back for a second test later this month?

  23. Hi doctor,
    I had protected sex 3 weeks ago with a man and the condom slipped off. The following day I woke up my throat was red and swollen and I felt like I had a fever but didn’t. I went to see my doctor 2 weeks ago and she said it was caused by a viral infection but took no tests. I have not had any other symptoms but the red soar and swollen throat still persists. I went and got the blood and urine std tests done one week ago. I am very worried that this might be hiv and would like some insight while I’m waiting for the results.

    • It is very unlikely for you to get HIV from protected sex. HIV ARS symptoms do not occur the very next day. If you had oral sex you should screen for throat Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. I think your worry about HIV is excessive. You’ll be OK.

  24. Desmond Lee

    Since this year onwards,almost every week I will seeking service from sex workers. Each time I do apply Condom when having sex activities with them except oral sex which is not applied condom.

    Last week,I attended my friend wedding and drink a lot of wain untik vomit. Even is like that,I slept at very late night and wake up very earlier for travel. After returning home,I feel damn tired and not feeling well. Currently I am experiencing low grade fever,inner body feel heat, slightly head spinning and feel tired especially after meal. I saw doctor and the temperature just 36.9. Even I have applied medicine from doctor for 5 days but still my inner body feel heat and fatigue. I wonder ans worry of inspect HIV. Hope doctor can give advise to me. Thanks.

    • It really does not sound to me like your symptoms are due to HIV ARS. However, the fact remains that you have had exposures (albeit low risk exposures) to HIV multiple times in the past 1 year. So the logical thing for you to do is to see a doctor and get screened for HIV and other STDs. You are welcome to visit any one of our clinics. Click HERE for location info.

      • Desmond Lee

        Hi,doctor. I hear your advice to do HIV testing at my nearby clinic and the result is negative. However until now I still suffer of body feel heat,head spinning and fatigue. I have visit few doctors and according to them ,it’s just a tiny illness. Body temperature is around 36.9 and 37 but today I went to see doctor again and my body temperature is 37.4. I’m very worry of being infected with HIV virus. So my question is did my symptoms look like affected with HIV because the duration is more than a month and secondly did I need to check again for the HIV testing few month later? Hopr doctor can advise me. Thanks.

  25. Dear Dr Tan. I have a protected sex with SW in Batam last September 2016. I never experience any symptoms of STD or HIV as far as I’m aware of until todate. But recently, my girlfriend was diagnosed with pyosalpinx by her OB and she suspected it came from me. My gf is living in another country and we have sex last October and November. I am really worried that I might be a carrier already. My girlfriend is undergoing tests right now l, and I am really worried about her and about my self too. Do you think I am positive? 🙁 Thanks in advanced

    • Unfortunately there is a good chance that you are carrying an STD. My guess is Chlamydia. As we have said many times on this forum, not having symptoms does NOT mean you are not infected. Many STDs do not cause symptoms. You should get screened.

  26. Hi Doc,
    Thanks for the time and support over this website
    This is my dilemma,
    Had unprotected sex with my ex.
    It’s now been 8 weeks post exposure and I’ve developed a mild sore throat , swollen neck glands Only, fatigue, no rash nor temperature. This symptoms lasted for less than 48 hours . Is this consistent with ars ?

    • No it is not. The timing is wrong and the symptoms sound too mild. However, I must point out that this does NOT mean you do not have HIV. You still need to be screened.

  27. Hello, i got the message from a guy that i had sex with he said he found out that he has HIV. I didn’t have any HIV symptoms at all also, before i had sex with him i was fine no itches down there& no skin peeling& milky ddischarge from the virgina. But i start to feel itcn and off, and the virgina skin peels off look like white& increase white milky discharge…. What does that means? Is that symptoms of HIV or something else? I haven’t feel sick,or get any of HIV symptoms yet.

  28. dear dr Tan
    am working as a seaman and on 1st of november i had a sex with a spa girl in malaysia . its not actually complete sex
    . it was only deep frensh kiss and just scraching her vigina with my penis only from outside and no penteration or cuming happened at all . at the 3rd week after that i feel that the neck lymph nodes below the ear is getting little bigger and smooth pain in addition to pain in the ear ( i actually do not know if its bigger but i feel something wrong in that area with pain in the ear and smooth pain in the throat ) and i always feel iching in my scalp . my quistion is there a possibility to get infecred with hiv if the girl infecter . and if so what is the name of the required hiv test i have to do . pls help me doctor am very afraid specially that am still on board a ship and my next chance to go shore and doing a test is on 18 dec
    that means 48 days after exposure and if the result was negatine is it nessesary to make other test and what is the accurecy percentage
    dear doc. your reply is highly appreciated considering that am on board a ship and have no place to go and test for now
    best regards.

    • If you are being honest with the details of your exposure then I have to say your risk of HIV is negligible. At 7 weeks post exposure I would recommend the HIV 4th Gen Combo test. However, we cannot give medical advice over the internet. You still have to seek the advice of which HIV test to do with the doctor that you will visit on 18th Dec.

  29. Hello,

    I had protected sex with the prostitude 3 weeks ago and my hands are dry and skin peeling off the fingers. No soreness, itchiness or watery stuff. Is this a possible HIV symptom?

    • Your symptoms do not sound like HIV symptoms. However, you cannot diagnose HIV via symptoms. You still need screening. Peeling skin from hands can be symptoms of Syphilis but 3 weeks is much too early for secondary Syphilis symptoms to appear. Either way, you should see a doctor.

  30. Hi doc,

    I had protected seks with a SW 3 weeks ago. Condom was not broken as far i know. I have a cold at this moment,symptoms: running/blocked nose and sneezing. I also have a light red rash on both cheeks and nose ( only on face ) NO Fever. Does this sound like ARS symptoms to you? Can ars rash only appear on the face and not the body? I’m worried a lot.

    • Your symptoms do not sound like ARS. Nevertheless, you need to go for HIV and STD screening.

  31. I had sex with prostitute on October 18 2016.I used condom.Three week after exposure,I found fungus between left thigh and grion.Next two week,new small fungus on my right medial thigh and felt armpit pain without lymphnode enlargement.My GP doctor cannot palpate lymph node enlargement.It may be due to physical strain.I just want to know is these are symptoms of ARS?Percentages of HIV transsmission in protected sex?Can anxiety cause armpit pain?

    • It is already December 1st. That is more than 6 weeks from your exposure. Just get a test and put yourself out of your misery. There is really no point in trying to analyze your symptoms or the risk of transmission. The test will tell you if you are infected or not and that is all you need to know. Honestly, even if I tell you the risk is 0.01% that means nothing to you. Because you may be the lucky 99.99% or you may be the unlucky 0.01%. I know it is hard but the best thing for you to do is to get tested. You’ll be OK.

      • Dear Doctor,very thank to your feedback.Yesterday,I suffered uncomfortable feeling inner left jaw.It is not pain.I cannot palpate any swelling.Today,GP doctor palpate on my jaw.He indicated to take Augmentin and it’s lymph node enlargement.I wanna know is enlarged lymph nodes are palpable or not?I said you above armpit pain.Does my armpit pain related to lymph node enlargement?I known that HIV patients develop lymph node enlargement in many sites.I’m so confused doctor.Can I test HIV antibodies now?It can give me precisely answer.Looking forward to your answer.

  32. Last year i have unprotected oral and protective sex with a SW, then i kindah have flu and neck pain after 5 week of exposure…

    And now during this 1 year i kind of getting repetitive mouth ulcer , itchiness near groin and cold like symptomps…

    Does this include as the 2nd stage of hiv infection doc?

    Thanks… im very worried…

    • What’s the point of worrying? Go get tested. Your symptoms do not sound suspicious.

  33. Hello Doctor,

    thanks for the job you and your colleagues are doing online. 12 days ago I had mutual masturbation with a sex worker (I am male, she was female). I have a case of jock itch which comes and goes with an irritable rash present for as long as I remember. The day I had the contact, it was a normal rash with probably small rash cuts present. The sex worker only gave the masturbation for a few minutes, I did not notice anything on her hands but honestly I did not examine them deeply. Up to this, this would be a more or less low risk scenario, but 6 days afterwards, going onto today, I developed some sort of infection in the mouth with jaw and tooth ache (I can feel the teeth ache and soreness up to my ear) and two non-paniful small ulcers that have since dissappeared (I someties have ulcer problems so it can be non-related, the last time I had an ulcer was in the summer).Is there a reason to worry? I cannot tell whether my lymph gland are swollen because those are things I just am not able to analyze (I can feel them but I think I was always able to since I am quite skinny on the face and neck). I feel a bit tired and sometimes have a headache but it could be the anxiety and also the fact that I am generally tired. Its flu season in this part of Europe by the way. This weekend I had sex with my longtime partner, I had the condom on but without thinking I put it the wrong way up and then flipped it (the same condom). More than afraid for me, I am afraid for my partner and was thinking whether I should tell her the story and get her PEP (which is probably not easy to do here as I’m in Europe and PEP isn’t certified) or whether its just anxiousness. The scenario (I understand unlikely) is that the sex worker had touched her vagina, applying lubrication gel/cream while in the bathroom and she may have thus transported the virus on me (the time between her coming from the shower and the start of the handjob could have been about 2 minutes). Or small cuts on the hand (but nothing bleeding as I probably would have noticed). What do you think? Thank you for your answer.

    • I think you have managed to think up a really convoluted scenario to scare yourself. The fact is you cannot get HIV from hand-genital contact. Regardless of whether or not there was vaginal fluid on her hand and regardless of whether or not you had any cuts. Please stop worrying.

  34. I am currently on PEP and had a high risk exposure back in 5th NOV..
    Took PEP on 6th NOV.. but I’ve developed persistent fever since Friday..(18 NOV)

    I went for 4th gen combo test at AFA to check if it was previous exposure.. and result was negative..

  35. Hi Dr Tan,

    I went to an Asian massage parlor stupidly and ended up having sex with the Chinese masseuse. We wore a condom when we had intercourse and the intercourse only lasted around 3 minutes. After we finished she helped me take off my condom and there seemed to be no leaks or blood from her vagina. What worries me (a lot) is that about an hour before this happened, I used my electric razor to shave some pubic hair and got a couple of tiny nicks on my groin (next to the top of scrotum, not on the penis but close to it) . What is the likelyhood of contracting HIV this way

    This happened about 4-5 weeks ago and last week (the 4th week) I developed a slight sore throat and dry mouth (no ulcers or swollen lymph nodes) and my temperature would range from 98.1-99.4f. My paranoia has made me check my temperature almost every hour, everyday and it has never went close to 100f. I’m hoping these symptoms are because of the changing weather in the US as it is becoming colder and it’s getting into the winter. I also do not see signs of rashes on my upper body and trunk.

    Please let me know what you think of my smyptoms and of this situation Dr.Tan. It is VERY very appreciated. This is the first thing I think about and the last thing I think about everyday.

    • Sorry, but I would also like to add that after I shaved, I noticed some minimal bleeding and and took a shower before I went to the massage parlor. So I guess I somewhat took care of the wounds?

      I am almost certain that by the time I was at the massage parlor, the bleeding had already completely stopped but I’m not sure how much exposure those wounds could cause me.

      Thanks again Dr.

      • I also noticed a tiny sore on the inside of my gum this morning. However, no other symptoms have come up. I’m hoping the sore is caused due to the amount of stress I’ve had thinking about my symptoms. To sum it up, my symptoms are light fever that ranges from 98.1-99.4 that changes very often thoughout the day. And I have a dry throat in the mornings, but no rashes. This has been 4 weeks and 5 days since the incident.

        Much thanks Dr Tan.

        • Your symptoms do not sound typical of HIV ARS. Since it has been already 5 weeks, go get a HIV test and get some peace of mind.

          • Hi Dr Tan,

            I had one more question. I finally mustered the courage to get tested at 52 days post exposure ( a little over 7 weeks) and the results were negative. The type of test I took was a rapid finger prick test where I received my results in less than a couple of minutes. I’m not exactly sure what generation that type of test would be considered, but would you say that my results should be conclusive or is that type of test not reliable?

            Thanks again Doctor, your work and response is very appreciated.

          • Well you do not know what type of test was done for you. I also do not know what kind of test was done for you. So I cannot comment on the accuracy of the test. You had best verify this with the doctor who did the test for you.

  36. Hello Doctor. Last Month I had mutual oral sex (1-2 mins, neither menstruatio nor open wounds) with a spanish prostitute (no drugs customer not drug user). My doctor told me that i must forget it and he didn’t want give me PEP. This last week I had sore throat, cough, mocus (it’s cold time in Spain), but I haven’t had fever, sore, muscle pain or anything like that. I don’t know if I need be tested- What do you think???

    • I agree with your doctor. You do not have HIV. However, you may have throat gonorrhea or chlamydia. You should re-visit your doctor to test and maybe treat for this.

  37. godforgiveme

    Hi Dr

    I have protected sex with prostitute, condom looks normal in whole process but I didn’t check it carefully. And French kiss for about 30s, my tongue has canker,not sure canker in her mouth. Are there any hiv risk in deep kiss? Is condom protected sex 100% safe? I have flu like symptom after two weeks, low fever 37c,soar throat, weary,and rash in neck, Palm sized area rash very small, difficult to find in skin. Now I am very nervous. Hope get your help. Thanks so much!

    • Condoms provide very good protection against HIV but is not 100% safe. You should still get tested.

  38. Hi Dr,

    Had protected sex with a female who’s status is unknown. I came in the condom but did not leave room at the tip. I don’t think the condom broke but when i withdrew there was no visible semen in the condom and my penis was moist. 12 days post exposure I experienced a light rash on both cheeks; Is it possible to develop ARS rash only on the face? No fever i’m aware of. However, 2 days later I had lack of appetite, nausea, vomitting, and fatigue that lasted for 3.5 days. Rash is still there but barely visible after 7 days. I have been stressing about HIV since the encounter and think i’m creating symptoms, what do you think?

  39. Tom short

    Hi dr
    I went to a strip club a few weeks ago
    The stripper was naked, I was fully clothed, at one point she played with her vagina and then tried to put he hand down my pants to grab my penis, I pulled her hand away but I’m concerned her finger may have touched the tip of my penis – if she had vaginal fluid on her finger and then her finger touched the tip of my penis – could I be at risk?

  40. Intheair

    Doctor, I’ve taken the 4th gen duo at 30 days and it came back negative, however 5 weeks have gone by and I still have a few symptoms, the biggest one being the rash around my colour bone.is it possible that I’m taking longer to seroconvert and I possibly have hiv2? At 5 weeks I still have dry mouth/thrush, shortness of breath,rash on colour bone, loose stools and eye flurries.

  41. Hi doc,

    I received my blood test which was done exactly at 28 days after exposure. The results was syphilis serology (modified VDRL): Non-Reactive. HIV Ag/Ab Screening (CMIA): Non-Reactive. HBsAg: Non-Reactive. Herpes Simplex Type I IgG: 0.23. Herpes Simplex Type II IgG: 0.41. Chlamydia IgG: 0.3.

    Could you please direct me which type of HIV test was done as I tried to mail my doctor no reply yet. Can you tell me if the HIV test was conclusive. I am worried as I am still not feeling well.

    Thank you.

    • I do not understand your question. You said the HIV test done for you was the “HIV Ag/Ab Screening (CMIA)”. So what do you mean by “which type of HIV test was done”?

      • Hi Doc,

        Apology for my stupid question but I mean to say which generation test was that. Was it 4th generation test or else. I don’t know much thing about HIV test and just came to know that there are various types of test. I even found that only 4th generation test can detect various as early as 28 days. Therefore could you please tell me in depth about my test that was done as far as your knowledge. Sorry for my bad English.

        Thank you.

  42. Ella wood

    Pls can someone who has a cut in the pussy if licked in the pussy by hiv patient get infevted

  43. Gary Summers

    Doctor, you seem very experienced and thought you could offer advice regarding a recent exposure I had which is causing immense anxiety.

    I had vaginal sex with a woman 3 weeks back and while I did put on the condom, I remember the girl telling me it was not worn properly (I was drunk). I also fingered the girl, and she squirted resulting in a lot of her fluid all over my hands. I do have habit of biting the skin around my thumbs, as such there is broken skin.

    Fast forward, in 3 days I had a chill and from day 4-6 was down with slight fever, very sore throat, loss of appetite and weight loss of 3 kgs. I recovered from the debilitating illness by day 7 although sore throat, fatigue and painful knee joints have persisted. I did start taking the PEP 60 hours after exposure, given I was feeling enlarged glands in my throat and fever of 37.6 at that point.

    I plan to get tested as soon as PEP is finished to set a baseline (I was HIV negative at the start of PEP). I feel certain in my gut that this was HIV symptoms but am not sure why I experienced them so soon. Also, is there even a remote possibility that the symptoms might be due to something else? What might that be (if any)?

    Thank you so much doctor, appreciate it

  44. Hi Doctor,
    How are u? I hope you are well. I have started my PEP on the date of 23.8.2016 exactly at 6pm for first time. then next day i started at 10 am in the morning and till now i am talking this way and never missed. My pills are Lopinavir 200mg+Ritonavir 50mg(keletra), Lamivudine 15omg+Zidovudine 300mg. 1. Should i be taking every 8 hours or every 12 hours?
    2.Can i still be start from tomorrow onwards to 12hrs-12hrs? I know i have to be taken the pills everyday at the same time. I am so sorry for this questions. Would you please let me know? Will there be any less pill’s effectiveness of this Pep treatment if i just switch from 8-8hrs to 12-12hrs now? I m on Pep for 5 days now. Pls help me answer this doctor. I have slight rashes and they were gone for now. My body feels really hot and i am in such worries right now? My doctor will only be available on monday and hence i am looking some answers from you and i hope you would answer me.
    Thanks doctor and i will be waiting to hear from u.

  45. Vincent

    I am worried about drinking drinks with contaminated blood in it. What are the chances of transmission?

    • What? It sounds to me like you need to see a psychiatrist. As a direct answer to your question: there is no risk of getting HIV this way.

  46. Is Sore thoart with shortness of breath and a mild cough signs of HIV or any other STD, I don’t have swollen glands or rash or even being fatigue

    • That is an impossible question to answer. What I can say it that they do not sound like the typical symptoms of HIV or STDs. However, that is not to say you are not infected with HIV or STDs. The only sure way to know if you are infected or not is to get tested.

  47. Worried soldier

    Hi Doctor,

    I have unprotected oral sex (giving and receiving) with a woman later found to be transgender male in Pattaya, Thailand. But I had protected intercourse with her. After having sex when I went to toilet, I spit in the sink and found blood like fluid and when I ask her, she said it was lipstick not her blood. Since then I have been in a really scared state and worried about contracting HIV. It’s been now 2 weeks of my contact. I am having mild fever and chills now and then. I have lost my apetite and my knees started to have mild pain. I do go for run and the knee doesn’t hurt during that period. I have mild itchiness on my neck as well.

    Am I going to have HIV? I have not tested yet as I am really worried. Could you please give me advice on this matter. Thank you.

    • I think what you are looking for is reassurance rather than advice. The advice is simple: go get tested. You had sex with a transgender sex worker in Thailand. I think nobody is going to argue the fact that you are at risk of HIV. You have a multitude of symptoms. Whether or not those are due to HIV nobody knows and no doctor can tell you either. You just need to get tested plain and simple. No amount of worrying will change that fact.

      • Worried soldier

        Hi Doc,

        I have been to the doctor for my HIV test. When I described about my situation and symptoms he just laughed. He said I don’t have any symptoms of HIV. It’s just that I am worrying too much. But I don’t think I got symptoms of HIV due to worry. He even advice no point of taking blood test as I don’t have HIV. But I requested him to take blood test for me.

        I am going to get my results this week. I am really worried about my early symptoms and what my doctor told me. Could you please help on what really going on me?

        Thank you

  48. I had unprotected sex and oral on a female almost 4 weeks ago, and after that started feeling funny, I would get a sore throat only at night it feel like and go aways and also I had trouble breathing at One point but I think it was due to me panicking about getting hiv or an std. Now it’s like I’m ok I have a mild cough but I don’t cough that much. I just got test and waiting on the the result


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