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Help! I Can't get tested, but my partner has HIV.

Discussion in 'Physical & Sexual Health' started by Jaimee, Sep 13, 2019.

  1. Jaimee

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    I need help. I'm a trans man in a relationship with a cis man. He has more experience than me, but promised he had been tested so we didnt worry about condoms. We never worried about pregnancy since my dysphoria makes anal the only sex I'm comfortable with, he said he had been tested as negative so it wasnt a thought. Apparently he got tested two weeks ago and was told he is HIV positive. Hes 17, I'm 16. I'm not out to my family and they don't know we are dating. I don't know where to get tested or how without family finding out. I'm very scared and angry. I need help, how do I get tested without my family finding out? He had been distant from me till he told me that he tested positive and I'm terrified I will too.
     
  2. Lin1

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    Try planned parenthood maybe? Sorry to say but anal sex is at the very higher end of the risk spectrum when it comes to transmission of the HIV virus so you do need to be checked ASAP.

    That being said HIV, now really isn’t a death-sentence anymore. You could have a pretty normal life with minimal alterations to your daily routine (meds) if diagnosed with AIDS or HIV.

    If you happen to test negative, which I hope, please make sure to use protection. As you have seen, people aren’t always honest about being tested and/or may cheat and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

    Take a deep breathe though. I know it’s scary but again HIV is much more like a chronic illness now that requires daily pills than the death sentence it once was so don’t worry too much, regardless of the result.

    Good luck and keep us updated!
     
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  3. Chip

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    Planned parenthood is a great place to start. If your area has a local LGBT center, generally they are hooked up to agencies that offer testing as well. And finally, nearly every public health office in just about every city and county in the US has free and often anonymous testing available.

    I can understand how angry and scared you are. I concur with Linning's assessment and wish you the best.
     
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  4. Jaimee

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    My friend said they can take me somewhere to get tested this week, I'll post updates. I'm very scared, thanks for the advice. My boyfriend and I are currently on a break till I can get tested and figure everything out.
     
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  5. Benway

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    As far as I know the virus won't even test positive until it's been in your body for at least three months. You may actually still be within the point of care. Like, I don't know the science behind it, but if you were recently exposed to HIV, they can like, zap it out of your system before it fully infects you, I think. I could be wrong. Good luck.
     
  6. DecentOne

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    If you start the course of HIV medications immediately (PEP - within hours, no more than 72 hours) it has been shown to reduce the chance of HIV being able to take hold. If that is what you were talking about Benway, you are not wrong. But otherwise, no.

    The over-the-counter HIV tests from drugstores are the three-month tests. But what clinics offer now are quick blood prick tests that work even if the HIV exposure was within a couple weeks.
     
  7. Benway

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    I think that's what I was talking about, yeah. I've heard it used for like, paramedics and stuff. Like if a cop gets bitten by a perpetrator with HIV they can get "Point of Care" treatment which prevents the virus from taking hold, resulting in them being HIV negative even if the virus was in their system. Again, this may be a mixed memory, but I just heard about something like that somewhere and I don't remember where.
     
  8. Jaimee

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    I wanted to post my update. Since my last comment here, I've been tested twice, most recent was this week. I'm still testing negative and my boyfriend and I have gotten back together to handle this. I will be tested again within the month and we arent having sex right now for obvious reasons. Thanks to everyone and all the help and support.
     
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  9. Chip

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    Let's clear some things up, because the above post has some pretty significant misconceptions.

    First, the common rapid "stick tests" used with saliva or blood and a reagent to cause a reaction are looking for antibodies to the virus. It can take the body anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months, and occasionally even longer, to produce antibodies. So if one is relying solely on the rapid tests, it could show a positive result in as soon as 3 weeks, but the reliability of the test increases substantially over time. So at 30 days, you might have 40 or 50% accuracy, while at 90 days, you'd probably have about 99% accuracy.

    There are several more sensitive tests which are actually detecting virus. Those are generally highly accurate in as soon as about 15 days. But those tests are substantially more expensive, and generally not offered at free testing programs.

    Also, it is worthwhile to know that in most cases, the time someone is at the greatest risk of transmitting the virus is in the first 2-3 weeks after becoming infected with the virus. This is also the very time where one is not going to show as positive on any test.

    And this is why you always, always, always use condoms. Even if the person was tested this morning, they could have been infected 2 or 3 weeks ago (or 6 or 8 weeks ago, depending on which test you're using) and STILL not test positive. Even if you've been with someone forever, you still use condoms. That way, if you or your partner have a momentary lapse of judgment and cheat... you aren't faced with the dilemma of explaining to your partner that you cheated, and suddenly having to stop having sex, or suddenly start using condoms... something that most people won't do, so they will instead just keep putting their partner at risk. If you always use a condom, every time, you are protecting yourself and your partner. It doesn't mean you don't trust each other. It means you love each other enough to care about one another's safety, and to realize that people aren't perfect, and can't always summon the courage to be honest in the immediate.
     
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  10. Benway

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    So what were my misconceptions? That's exactly what I said, albeit in less words. The virus won't be detected properly right away, which is why you usually have to wait three months to get tested. That's what I said and you just reiterated it but said I'm wrong at the same time.
     
  11. Chip

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    To clarify, you said
    "at least three months" definitely isn't true. The antibody tests will often (40-50% of the time) show positive at the 3 to 4 week mark. However, they don't reach 90% reliability for a few weeks (used to be 4-6, haven't checked recently) and are at about 99% at 12 weeks.

    Thus, there's no reason not to start testing at about the 2-3 week mark, because if you get a positive result, you can start treatment right away... but if you get a negative at that point, you'll need to continue testing for another 8 weeks (or use the more sensitive test) to validate a negative result.

    Additionally, if you do use the more sensitive (and more expensive) test, you can get a reliable result at somewhere around 3 weeks.
     
  12. Benway

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    That just sounds like waiting three months with extra steps.
     
  13. Chip

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    I think my response was pretty clear, and that the intended audience will understand what I said, which is not what you described.
     
  14. Aussie792

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    Did you discuss the general circumstances of the risk coming from your boyfriend with whoever tested you? If you do remain with him, it's important you speak to someone specifically about managing an ongoing relationship with someone with HIV. That's a very different question from testing a one-off risk of exposure.

    It's really important to distinguish what you're saying from what Chip is saying. There is a huge risk what you're saying could discourage people from seeking immediate medical treatment or investigations.

    At three months, virtually all HIV-detection tests will be very accurate. However, within a few weeks, more sophisticated tests will have a good or excellent chance of accurately detecting HIV infection, while less sophisticated tests might miss it.

    That does not mean it's pointless to get tested before the 3-month mark. It means if you get a test early, you will need to be specific in asking which test is being administered (or, rather, your doctor should tell you). You will also generally return for a follow-up by the 3-month mark to have absolute certainty that it wasn't a false negative.

    Ideally, in jurisdictions where it is subsidised (or otherwise if you have the independent means to access it), Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is an excellent solution for when you first know you're at risk of exposure. PEP is usually taken in the first 72 hours after a risk of exposure. The closer to the point of exposure the better. When prescribed PEP, you will undergo an HIV test to make sure you don't already have the infection. That test is well within the 3-month mark. That test may be within hours.

    HIV can be more difficult to suppress the later it is detected. While more prone to false negatives, those early tests are an invaluable tool in HIV management and prevention.

    Please do not encourage people to wait three months. I know it is not poorly intended but it is, at best, outdated advice.
     
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  15. Benway

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    So wait, hold up a minute. If you're HIV-negative anyway and you take this PEP within 72 hours of risk of exposure and you're still HIV-negative, what does PEP do? I thought it was a medicine that could nullify the virus before it takes hold. But if you're HIV-negative already, why would you take it?
     
  16. Aussie792

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    You can only go onto PEP in the first three days after an exposure. Most HIV tests cannot detect a new infection within that time.

    Scenario: You have risky sex, are exposed to a blood source such as a needle with a risk of HIV or known HIV. You go to a doctor. You ask for PEP. They administer a test that cannot possibly detect an HIV infection that is under 72 hours old. What they're testing for is whether you have a pre-existing HIV infection. They give you the PEP before the results are back.

    If the results come back positive, they call you back in and you immediately stop taking PEP. You move onto suppression therapy.

    If the results come back negative, you continue to take the month's course of medication to ensure you do not acquire an HIV infection from the exposure. You then get follow-up care to ensure you didn't acquire HIV after all tests are effective.
     
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  17. Benway

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    Interesting. So it can or it can't prevent the virus from fully infecting you? Because from what I was understanding, if you're infected and you get this treatment within 72 hours, it can prevent the virus from taking hold at all, rendering you ultimately HIV-negative. Or does HIV not infect you right away? Like, does it take a few days to infect you? That would explain how this PEP stuff works.
     
  18. Chip

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    What Aussie is saying is that you don't take PEP if you already had HIV prior to your recent risky exposure. This is why they test you. If you've been in a risky situation in the last 72 hours, no current test will detect it. You could still very likely have the virus, but it won't be present in large enough quantities for the viral titer to detect it.

    So you're in a risky situation, and they put you on PEP, but to make sure you didn't already have HIV, meaning you weren't previously exposed to it months ago or longer, they test you first.

    If you are negative, then they put you on PEP. And PEP is highly effective at preventing HIV infection when taken within the first 72 hours of exposure.

    If you are positive, the positive result is from a previous exposure, not the current one, and so they start you on appropriate medications for someone who has HIV.
     
  19. Benway

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    But can it or can't it prevent you from getting HIV if you've been in a risky position within the last 72 hours or so? That's what I'm really trying to understand. Because if it can, that's amazing, that's a miracle of modern science. But if it can't, what's the point of taking it?
     
    #19 Benway, Nov 13, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2019
  20. DecentOne

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    Benway, just look up PEP online and you can get all the CDC, WebMD or other expert stuff. Chip and Aussie have been explaining it well, but if you need to see a scientist explain it in detail go to the sources.

    PEP works best if taken within the first couple hours, (80% effective in preventing HIV) and has declining effectiveness if taken more hours later. Finally, by 72 hours, they won’t give it to you because it isn’t effective enough by that point. Yes, it can prevent HIV from taking hold, if you start it soon enough, and take it consistently for four weeks every single day.

    They also have what is called PEP in Pocket (PIP), which is a prescription provided if you want to have your first dose(s) on hand “just in case” or know you would not be able to get to an Emergency Room or Clinic immediately (perhaps you are vacationing in the middle of nowhere). So if you have that first dose right away after a possible HIV exposure (in the middle of the night) and then go to the clinic to be tested (the next day) you have the best chances the meds will start building up in your system before the HIV can.