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Why don't you just get tested?

Hi there,
My name's Oll and I've been living in fear for the last year. One year ago, almost to the day, I was travelling in Eastern Europe and ended up at a festival. I'd had a fantastic day watching all the acts, having a few drinks etc. I got seperated from the friends that I was with later on that evening and ended up wandering around the festival site on my own. As the atmosphere was so friendly, it wasn't long before I got chatting to some people and ended up at their campsite. We chatted away until the early hours of the morning until I started to realise it was getting light. I thought I'd better be getting back to my hostel but as I left the tent I realised I hadn't a clue where I was in the festival grounds. I found a quiet all night cafe and took out my map of the festival site. By this stage I was so tired I decided that I'd just rest my eyes for a few moments before tackling the journey home. Inevitably I fell asleep.

When I awoke it was light and must have been about 8 in the morning. Time for home so I gathered my things and took off for the tram. The following day I met up with my friends and they told me they were moving on. The day after I said goodbye to them and we planned to meet up in a few weeks time. After saying goodbye I went to get some breakfast. It was then I noticed a mark on my the inside of my forearm. It looked suspiciously like a needle mark. I went back to my room and checked for any other marks. I found a bruise on the inside of my arm about the size of a thumbprint. When I put my own thumb there I noticed with horror that the vein on my forearm started to protrude, and on that vein was the needle mark. The only thing I could think was that this must have happened whilst I was asleep in the festival. But how could I have slept through an injection? I'm a deep sleeper but surely...

Having found this possibly evidence of someone injecting me without my knowledge I freaked out. I ran to the shower and scrubbed my arm. I guess I was in shock. On the way back to my room I actually passed out. For the rest of that day I just lay in bed trying to sleep telling myself everything would be okay.

I found a clininc in my guide book that had English speaking doctors and went to them the following day. The doctor at first looked at the needle mark and asked what the problem was. I explained and she told me I was being paranoid. When I showed her the bruise though, she became more concerned. She went and asked for a second opinion and the second doctor agreed that it could be a needle mark. I asked to be tested for drugs to see if someone had attempted to or even successfully drugged me. The results came back negative. The doctor told me I should be pleased but I explained that it might be possible that someone tried to infect me with HIV. She thought it highly unlikely but told me to wait three months if I was really worried as that's how long it takes for the test to work.

About two weeks after I found the needle mark I developed a kind of cold. I had extremely dry, sore nasal passages and was coughing up dense phlegm in small amounts. I also experienced muscle spasms. I started doing some research and found out that this could be the acute infection. Three months came and three months went and I was too afraid to get the test. I couldn't bring myself to tell my family as we'd had a death in family about 6 months previously. I thought my news of possible HIV infection would be too much for those I loved. I decided to travel again. I suppose I was in denial. Many times whilst I've been travelling I've thought about getting tested but then what would I do if it came back positive? I'd be in a strange country on my own with this to deal with. I'm so worried about this thing that I sometimes think I'm creating symptoms psychosematically, i.e. thinking about it so much and being so sure I'm positive that I'm causing symptoms to appear. I've had stuff like shortness of breath and swollen lymph glans. I haven't had diarhea though which I'd expect seeing as how I'm travelling. It's been a year since I possibly was exposed. I know symptoms probably wouldn't show up this early but anyone who's travelled knows that the typical traveller doesn't have the healthiest of lifestyles. I've been drinking too much (drinking to forget I guess) and smoking too much too. I know this won't help my immune system but I'm just scared and these things comfort me.

If you've read all of this story by now you must be thinking, 'Why don't you just get tested?' Well why not. I'm due home soon and when I get there it's the first thing I'm going to do. Anyone who mails me off the back of this story, I'll let you know how I go. The time for running away has come to an end. It's time to take action. To anyone else who's in a similar position, I urge you to get tested. If you don't you could have a year like I've just had, plagued with worry and what ifs. It's not worth it. I feel almost liberated just deciding to get tested even though I haven't done it yet but in a strange way I'm looking forward to returning to my home country and finding out once and for all.


Sent via Email July18, 2004 from UK.



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