A service provided by the BC Centre for Disease Control



Answered Questions

In the years since SmartSexResource launched, we have developed a library of questions asked by you, and answered by our expert sexual health nurses.

Our answered questions library cover a broad range of sexual health topics and common questions we hear at our clinics.

STI Symptoms (167)

Hi,Thank you for the quick reply! Question was: —————————Hi, I’m a male and had an unprotected vaginal sex. I tested at 21 days(3 weeks), 42 days(6 weeks), and 60 days (8 weeks) all negative 4th generation HIV test. I’ve been having rash that come and goes in the morrnings or random times of the day (chest) and on my 9th week I have gotten swollen lymph nodes. All the nurses and drs tell me at 8th week its conclusive but I keep stressing with my symptoms————————–ANWSER: Hi, thanks for writing in with your concerns. With the fourth generation HIV test, you can be reassured that you do not have HIV and there is no need to do any further HIV tests. You did not say if you also did any STI testing around chlamydia ( most common STI) gonorrhea or syphilis and if you have not already done these tests, then please do them to cover the possibility of exposure from over 8 weeks ago. if you have persistent swollen lymph glands and a rash, please consider seeing another doctor for assessment where testing and treatment for conditions other that STI’s might be recommended.———————————-To reply to your questions;1. I did test for all the other STDs and its negative.2. My worry was – what if I’m seroconverting at 9 weeks – because my neck lymph nodes are super swollen and hurts – would the test still have picked up something at 3,6, and 8 weeks?

Hi, and thanks for writing in again.

If you have a negative 4th Generation HIV antibody test done 12 weeks after a sexual risk or exposure, then you can be reassured that you do not have HIV from this encounter. 

Sore, swollen lymph nodes are what we call a “non-specific” symptom which means it could be attributed to any number of things, most likely a common cold or some other viral throat infection. Swollen lymph nodes are not specifically a symptom of HIV or of seroconversion. 

It does sound like you are maybe feeling quite anxious about an HIV infection, and so you may want to consider speaking with a counsellor or another health care provider such as a doctor or nurse if you are having difficulty trusting the negative result from your multiple HIV tests.

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions
or concerns.
Health Nurse

I am going throuh the toughest time of my life due to an unfortunate risky potential exposure I had. I would greatly appreciate if a hiv treatment expert answers this question. 6 days after the incident I had fever, lymph nodes, sore throat and wet cough. All except cough went away in 3-4 days. I saw a doctor for cough – it went away in another 5-6 days after I had ascoril syrup and monocef 200 tab. On 20th day i experienced a dull burning feeling on left side of my groin (maybe slightly above testacle). This very dull burning feeling spread to my whole groin, testacle and later to the lower thighs , inner thighs of both legs. From 22nd day I experienced knee pain as well. By 24th day groin pain decreased , left leg thigh pain decreased. Now on 31st day I have slight pain on my crouch. My right leg is still paining – a numb burning feeling from crouch to toe . What’s wrong with me?. Also on 64 days of exposure I did hiv fourth generation test and it came back negative the following day , I did additional test at 74 days it came back negative using the fourth generation Elisa test is mine result conclusive

Hi, and thanks for writing in with your question

The window period (time between when a person comes in contact with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and when the STI will show up on a test) for HIV is 3 months. If you have had a negative HIV antibody test 3 months or more after the encounter, this means that you do not have HIV.

Unfortunately it is not possible to determine what is causing your symptoms without seeing you in person. I recommend revisiting your doctor for further assessment if you are worried about continued symptoms. However, what I can tell you is that none of the symptoms that you have described are symptoms specific to an HIV infection. These symptoms could be caused by any number of different things. 

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

I am from Bangladesh.have some stupid mistakes in my life and I am paying heavily for this Episode. #1 october 29,2014 I had protected vaginal sex with a female csw.I also french kissed her.Later found the girl HIV +.After 5 weeks I experienced severe flue type illness.Swollen lymph nodes under jaw and neck,loose stool,hedeach,severe muscle and joint pain,rash on both arm. I have tested after 3 months with 3rd generation rapid test,after 5 months with 3rd generation elisa, after 6.5 months with 3rd generation rapid test.All are negative. 2# July 16 2017 I had protected oral and protected vaginal sex with a female csw.Dont know why? Vaginal part only lasted 10-15 seconds.The girl seemed a consistent condom user.No real symptom aftee 1-4 weeks. Episode 3 # October 17 2017 I had protected vaginal sex with a csw.She offered me to have sex without a condom for extra charge.But she assured me she gets tested every month. Now you are thinking whats the real problem.Actually Im experiencing the symptom of overt aids.Lose of appetite,Loosing weight,fatigue, dizziness ,swollen lymph nodes,loose stool,nail fungus,clubbing nail are making my life hell.I have been loosing weight before my 2nd exposure. I dont know what to do? I cry and pray to God.Ive ruined my life.In my country HIV stigma is very deep and like a death sentence.

Hi there, and thanks for writing in.

The window period (time between when a person comes in contact with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and when the STI will show up on a test) for HIV is 3 months. If you have had a negative HIV antibody test 3 months or more after the encounter, this means that you do not have HIV.

Actually I can see that you have written to us previously with this same question. It is very difficult to live in a place where there is still a lot of stigma around HIV. It is also difficult to function in everyday life when we feel this much anxiety. It seems from your question and from the number of times that you have posted that question, that you are feeling a lot of anxiety about the possibility of an HIV infection. The fact is, you’ve had a negative test result more than 3 months after the encounter. This means that you are HIV negative.

The symptoms that we sometimes see associated with HIV seroconversion are what we call non-specific symptoms. This means that while swollen lymph nodes can be present with an HIV infection, for example, they can also be present with a multitude of other harmless things, such as a common cold.

Interestingly enough, all the symptoms that you’ve described to me can also be attributed to high levels of continued stress and anxiety. When we are feeling particularly anxious we don’t sleep. And when we don’t sleep, we get sick. When we are worried, maybe we don’t eat a normal healthy diet. And when we don’t eat, we lose weight.

In sexual health, we often meet people who are experiencing anxiety about an infection, but when we talk about it further, we discover that the actual feelings are around a new or different sexual encounter that the person feels unsure or ashamed about. I cannot determine exactly where your anxiety is coming from, but perhaps this is true for yourself.

At this point, I would strongly recommend that you see a professional counsellor or a healthcare professional about the level of anxiety you are feeling. Sometimes talking through these things in person can be helpful and counsellors have a lot of different tips and tricks to help people work through their anxious thoughts. In any case, further testing for HIV will likely not be helpful at this time, and will indeed most likely be more harmful to your mental health.

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

Do you get flu like symptoms and tiredness with every herpes outbreak ? I think i had my first out break and and i had all the symptoms but i am wondering if i will only get sores without flu for the secind time ? Type 2

Hi, and thanks for your question

Most people do not experience the whole body symptoms of fever and aches with recurrent (repeat) outbreaks. Area-specific symptoms such as itching, tingling skin or sores are the most common symptoms.

You may still feel a bit tired or unwell during a second or subsequent outbreak but it is unlikely to be as severe as the first time. Getting plenty of rest, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a low stress level are all things that can help you get through an outbreak, and indeed can help keep new outbreaks away in the first place as these things contribute to a healthy, strong immune system.

If you haven’t had a chance yet, I would encourage you to have a look at our Herpes: Patient’s Guide. It’s quite comprehensive, but there is lots of helpful info for you to look at as needed.

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns. Health Nurse

My husband and I have Genital Herpes. I had a C section due to this. We were recently away on vacation with our 8 month old. There was only a stand up shower in our hotel so my husband showered with my 8 month old. In the shower there was a sitting area. My husband sat down on it and then briefly rested my baby on his lap to wash him. He only did this for about 5-10 seconds because I saw and reminded him not to. He doesn’t have any open sores or symptoms of an outbreak and has had the virus for 9 years but I am worried sick about viral shedding. I don’t know what I would do if my baby has become infected from showering him. I’ve read mixed things such as the way you shed the virus when there is no outbreaks is through mucus membranes and Genital secretions. If this were the case he definitely did not come into contact with that but he was resting on his lap so his pubic hair area could have touched my son. Is he at risk? It’s been 6 days so far and no symptoms. Thanks you so much.

 Based on what you have shared with me it sounds like there are no significant exposures to indicate an HSV infection. Herpes is passed by skin-to-skin contact between one person who has the virus and another who does not. This contact needs to be directly with the part of the body where aperson has the virus. For example, if someone has oral herpes, their mouth is the area of the body that has the virus, not their genitals. The type of contact that usually transmits herpes involves skin rubbing on skin, like kissing or sexual activity. It also is possible for herpes to be passed if one person touchesthe part of their body that has herpes (like their genitals) and then immediately touches another person’s mouth or genitals. Sharing sex toys between one person and another without changing condoms or washing toyscan also pass the virus.

The chance of passing herpes is highest when there is an active outbreak (when sores or blisters are visible, or prodrome symptoms are present). There is no risk of passing herpes throughgeneral household activities. You can’t get herpes from a toilet seat or furniture, or fromsharing a bed or hugging someone with herpes.The herpes virus is fragile and doesn’t live more than a few minutes on most surfaces. The virus is easily killed by soap and water. Unless an item, like a spoon or a towel, is going directly from one person’s mouth or genitals to another person, there is no need to worryabout sharing household items.

Although there is no major risk exposure in the case that you’ve mentioned to me, these are the key clinical indicators of an active herpes outbreak/infection

• One or more sores that look like
water blisters, cuts, or broken skin
• The skin can feel itchy, tingling, burning, raw, or painful
• Fever, headache, or muscle aches
• Feel tired and not well

• Pain in your legs or buttocks
• The lymph nodes in the groin can be swollen and tender
• Painful urination (peeing)
• A change in vaginal discharge
• Swollen genitals


Does this answer your question? Please let us know.

I have green vaginal discharge, no smell and no other symptoms. What could it be?

Having abnormal vaginal discharge may or may not be an sexually transmitted disease. The best way to determine the cause of your discharge is to see a healthcare professional and discuss your symptoms with them. I have attached a link for you to find a clinic within British Columbia. https://smartsexresource.com/get-tested/clinic-finder

Does this answer your question? Please let us know.

Hi i am a male 29 had a exposure with breast milk of a lactating woman hiv status don’t know after 15 days of exposure i got geographical toung or something like lychin planus white patch on the tongue and itching and nausea know At 3 months Hiv1&2 antibody test (negative), At 4 months hiv 1&2 elisa (negative), At 4.5 months antigen antibody test 4 genration (negative), At 4.5 months Rial time Rna pcr test (negative) But have white patch and unusual blemishes on the tounge do i am infected or not picked up by test or i am still in window period plz reply waiting eagerly.

Hi, and thanks for your question

While HIV can technically be passed through breastmilk, we typically see this from a mother who has HIV to an infant when the baby actually ingests breastmilk during regular breastfeeding multiple times per day. If the breastmilk only came in contact with your skin, then there would not be a risk. And as you’ve pointed out, the HIV status of your partner is unknown.

The 4th Generation HIV antibody test is the standard test used in Canada and the results are accurate at 12 weeks after exposure, as someone who has acquired HIV will have detectable antibodies at this time. Since you’ve tested several times beyond the 12-week mark and your results were all negative, this means that you do not have HIV.

The symptoms you are describing are not specific to HIV and could be contributed to many things including common viruses and infections of the mouth. If you are concerned about your symptoms, I would recommend visiting a doctor for further assessment beyond HIV testing.

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

Are boils a symptoms of hiv?


There are no specific symptoms that are exclusive to HIV. If someone gets HIV the symptoms they could get can also be caused by many different medical conditions. Given this people are unable to use symptoms as a way to determine if they have HIV or not. The only way to find out if you have HIV is by doing a HIV test.

To answer your question boils would not be a symptom that is specific to HIV. People with and without HIV can develop boils. As you have a symptom and are worried about HIV I would recommend going for a HIV test.

It can be common for people to worry about HIV if they develop symptoms after a possible risk. In these situations we recommend that people go for a HIV test to find out their status, if there was a risk that could have passed HIV.

Let us know if you have any further questions or concerns.

Health Nurse

Hi madam, i had unprotected oral sex and protected vaginal sex with a csw. I am a male 30 from india. After 2 days of the episode, i experienced a strong flu like symptoms, till now I am experiencing some of the symptoms, I have tested many times hiv 1 and 2 antibody test, everytime negative. I tested for other STD also all negative. Now my symptoms are Feel swollen nodes near neck and armpit Hairfall and dry hair Rashes in forehead Rashes in arms and biceps- not right now Dry nose Cough, sinus type symptoms Dry feet Pain near the ankles last 2.5 years Nails fungus, Sometimes pain in nails Pain near kidney and liver Reoccurring sores in mouth and tongue Tongue layer Penis glans smells bad(balanitis) Loose stool Sweating and fever Sometimes flu like symptoms occurringPlease suggest me what I can do now. Are my tests conclusive. I heard sometimes antibody are not produced in the body inspire of infection. Do I have to go for pcr rna test?

Hi, and thanks for your question

As long as your HIV test was done at least 3 months after the sexual encounter, the results will be accurate and there should be no need for further HIV testing
The symptoms you are describing are not specific to an HIV infection. If you are concerned about your symptoms you may want to visit your care provider or doctor for further assessment beyond STI testing.

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse

I was wondering if it is normal for an 18 yr old male to be able to feel his lymph nodes which are about pea-sized. They are not causing any pain but I am worried it is std related.

Hi, and thanks for your question

This can definitely be normal. Some people have bigger more palpable (able to be felt) lymph nodes very close to the surface of the body, especially if a person is on the thinner side. Others are naturally smaller and a bit deeper down and less easy to feel. The fact that they are not causing you any pain is a good thing.

Of course we also do recommend regular testing for STIs including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV for all sexually active individuals regardless of whether there may be symptoms or not as many STIs don’t have any symptoms at all.
Have a look at our Clinic Finder to locate a clinic near you for testing

Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.
Health Nurse