Saturday, January 8, 2011

Is it HIV or the FLU?

It’s that time of year in most parts of the country.  Cold!  Though, even if you are not living in a cold climate you are still prone to the Flu.  Every year I choose to vaccinate myself against the Flu. Last year I vaccinated myself against the regular Flu and H1N1 (swine flu) – wow, where did that term go? It seems like just yesterday it was all over the news. This year’s Flu vaccine was an all in one. It included the seasonal Flu and H1N1. 
In late February of last year I became really sick with Flu like symptoms. A headache for days, body aches, could barely leave my bed, fever.  I felt awful.  Though, I knew it couldn’t be the Flu, because I had the vaccine for it.
So, I went to my doctor, and he was going to write it off as a virus and told me to take OTC meds and drink lots of fluids and rest.  Though, I had a gut feeling it was something more serious.  I asked my Doctor; do you think it could be HIV?
He then said – it may be possible given my recent sexual contact (2 ½ weeks prior to this visit).  So, he did some blood work and 5 days later I received that dreaded call from the Doctor’s Secretary.  “Your results are back and the Doctor wants to see you, when can you come in?”  Previous times when I would have an HIV test – he would tell me over the phone, everything is ok, checked out fine, etc…
So, I went right in after the phone call. I knew at that point what it was.  I knew what it was when I went in 5 days earlier. I had sub culmed to the fact it was HIV, and I was right.  The doctor came into the exam room and showed me the test results.  He had done a very expensive and extremely sensitive HIV test called DNA/PCR.  This test can pick up the virus within 2 weeks of being infected.
This was not a false positive.  He told me it’s not a death sentence, and the visit ended with the question “how are you feeling psychologically”.   All I know is I just wanted to get out of there and figure out how to rid the HIV from my system.
So, I left and if you read “my story” at the top of my blog – you will be able to fill in the rest of the details.  The point of this blog entry is:  Be aware of any physical symptoms, recent sexual activities, and seek medical advice if you feel it could be something more than a standard virus; AND ask your doctor the question, could it be HIV? It could be just a standard virus and not HIV.   
Many people do not get symptoms when they become infected with HIV.  I guess I am fortunate that I did, and was able to seek treatment and start ART (Anti-Retroviral Therapy) right away.  
If you do not have a Doctor, you can find a free HIV testing location near you by going to http://www.hivtest.org  and typing in your zip code.
Stay safe. Get Tested. Be Well.

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