I'm also a 26 year-old female, and up until last spring, I could have written this post. I've dealt with hypochondria since I was a little kid, believing that I was dying of something terrible and my parents just weren't telling me about it. I grew up and lived recklessly throughout college, having unprotected sex with partners I didn't know much about. HIV was always in the back of my mind, but never really in a serious way. Gradually, though, I started thinking about it more and more--entertaining the idea, making timelines of sexual encounters, charting "symptoms..." (night sweats, swollen nodes, spots in my mouth, general aches...I had it all). I became obsessed. I would do anything to reassure myself one way or the other without taking a test. I was convinced that just getting tested would ruin me completely. Years went by, I met a man and got married, and though my HIV fear waxed and waned, it was always there. Finally, last spring, I hit my breaking point. I don't remember what set it off (though, like you, I was especially sensitive to hearing about it/reading about it/etc.), but I had a near-meltdown. I was overcome with fear, guilt, and regret. I finally worked myself up to get tested after a long, sleepless night (though my husband had to drive me to the clinic, I didn't trust myself to do it). The whole thing took all of fifteen minutes, and though it felt excruciatingly long, the test administrator talked me through the whole thing.
I was negative.
Everything that happened after receiving my result felt like I was doing it for the first time. It's so ridiculous, but the air smelled sweeter, the sky was bluer, food tasted better. For the first time in YEARS I was completely unburdened by my thoughts. It was incredible. I still think of that day whenever I need to muster up courage for something else--since I maintain that voluntarily getting tested was the scariest, most difficult thing I've ever done.
Anyway, my point is: Don't wait until February. Do it now. Enjoy the upcoming holidays. I had many more risk factors than you (unprotected vaginal, oral, and anal sex with multiple partners), and everything turned out a-ok. As others have said, though the risk is real, it's overhyped in our culture in order to raise awareness. And awareness is a good thing...unless you're a hypochondriac.
Do it for the people who care about you, who want you to live your life fully and without regrets or fear. Do it for your past and future sexual partners, who deserve to know their own status. Do it for yourself--the sooner you know your result (and I would wager a lot of money that you're NEGATIVE), the sooner you can move on with your life. If you're positive? The sooner you can start on a treatment regimen. It's a win-win. Not knowing helps NOBODY. Please...take it from me. I've been where you are. I've felt completely alone, too ashamed to confide in anyone, sure of the worst, paralyzed with fear, trying in vain to accept my fate, dwelling on the past and what I should have done differently. I have been there. Please, please, please get yourself tested. It can be so much better.