Immediately after my marriage I had felt feverish and tired etc for about three months and I was scared I may have contracted HIV from the earlier contacts, but when the problem disappeared I was very happy and had no contact outside marriage.
In March 1996 I had a lump in my neck on the left side and it was diagnosed as Gland TB. I started to take ATT but was very depressed as I felt sure that due to HIV status I had got TB. Since I was depressed I was brought to Chennai and was taken to a leading hospital. I told the doctor about my fears and he made me take the Elisa test and the result was negative (May 1996). I continued with ATT for 6 months.
In subsequent years I started feeling sensations in lymph glands but no specific enlargement. Since I still believed HIV may be the cause, I took the following tests after consulting JJ Hospital, Mumbai, ARCON etc: Dec 1996, Spot test –negative;
August 1997- Western Blot-test indeterminate as GP 41 was indicated as +/- and all other protein negative - MGM, hospital lab, Mumbai.
I was advised to repeat the Elisa, Western Blot and PCR and all three were negative.
The problems of gland sensations continued and with the passage of time I started getting swelling without pain in armpits and thighs etc which varies - sometimes I feel more uncomfortable. I was however putting on weight but otherwise I was okay.
I have a daughter who is now 13 years old. She seems to be okay in health but had primary complex two years back and had taken ATT and is okay after this.
My wife is getting some problems related to respiratory infections but otherwise is okay and complains of tiredness sometimes.
When my wife conceived last year I was still worried and went to YRG Care hospital with my wife. I was assured that everything was okay and there is no probability of wrong test results. My wife also tested negative.
Recently I am having problem of swelling in neck also and can feel some enlargement of tissues in my throat. It’s now 15 years almost from any risky behaviour. Is this related to gland TB which is drug resistant or some other problems, or are the tests wrong? Though I had consulted many doctors, they are not clear what the problem is but say it is not related to HIV. Please advise me. I live in Chennai.
You have what we call ‘AIDS phobia’. Phobia is defined as 'an unrealistic fear'.
From what you have written it is clear that you are certainly not infected with HIV and unless you put yourself at risk of HIV in the future, you are unlikely to get infected.
You have always had protected sexual encounters before marriage and have got yourself tested well past the window period (which is usually only 6-12 weeks). Your negative status has been confirmed by several tests at several places (though in my opinion most of the tests were unnecessary and the only thing you needed at that time was reassurance).
Why did you get TB of the lymph gland? Well, just by chance. TB is a common infection in India and was there even before HIV appeared on the scene. So each and every TB case need not be associated with HIV. Why did your daughter get it? Again by chance, she being a resident of India where TB is common. If your wife tested negative she is not infected and in such a situation she cannot transmit HIV infection to her daughter in any case.
You must remember that not all health problems in the world are only due to HIV. Anyone can get anything like malaria, dengue, typhoid, tuberculosis, common cold, sore throat, sneezing, etc. It is due to your phobia that you keep on connecting everything with HIV. You should really get out of this.
I hope you have discussed these issues with your wife. Otherwise you are also carrying the burden of non-disclosure. I also hope that you are otherwise keeping yourself in good health. Anyone under such severe mental stress is unlikely to have slept well since many days and is also unlikely to eat well. Anyone who has not been eating well, or has not been getting a good rest is likely to be more prone to repeated infections (including TB).
My advice to you is to forget the past and start leading a healthier lifestyle - good food, good exercise, enough rest, adequate recreation, no vices etc. You will definitely be better off if you get these things sorted out with your wife too.
Magdalene Jeyarathnam adds:
You could meet with a counsellor in Chennai who can work with you regarding this phobia. You could call the counselling helpline of Center for Counselling to fix an appointment: 9884700104 (English) /9884700174 (Tamil). Or contact YRG Care Helpline: 9840069000. These services are not free.