What are the symptoms of HIV?

What are the symptoms of HIV?

Not all symptoms may be present and many people with HIV infection don’t have any symptoms. If you think you may have been infected with HIV or are at risk of contracting the virus, like having sex without condoms or condoms broke, sharing drug injection with other. Quickly see a health care provider as soon as possible because the only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested.

HIV infection

The symptoms of HIV vary, depending on the phase of infection. Without treatment, HIV infection advances in stages, getting worse over time. HIV gradually destroys the immune system and eventually causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) There is no cure for HIV but medications can control the infection and prevent progression of the disease. Antiviral treatments for HIV have reduced AIDS deaths.

Stages of HIV infection

Acute HIV Infection

Acute HIV Infection or Primary HIV Infection is an early stage of HIV infection that extends approximately 2 to 4 weeks from initial infection until the body produces enough HIV antibodies to be detected by an HIV antibody test. During acute HIV infection, HIV is highly infectious because the virus is multiplying rapidly. The rapid increase in HIV viral load can be detected before HIV antibodies are present. Symptoms of acute HIV infection can include:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Night sweats
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Ulcers that appear in or on the mouth, esophagus, or genitals

Chronic HIV Infection

Chronic HIV Infection or second stage of HIV infection also called asymptomatic HIV infection or clinical latency. During this stage, HIV continues to multiply in the body but at very low levels. People with chronic HIV infection may not have any HIV-related symptoms. Without ART, chronic HIV infection usually advances to AIDS in 10 years or longer, though in some people it may advance faster. People who are taking ART may be in this stage for several decades. While it is still possible to transmit HIV to others during this stage, people who take ART exactly as prescribed and maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex. People may experience episodes of the following, particularly in advanced stages:

  • High fever
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Coughing or breathing difficulties
  • Unintentional weight loss of more than 10 percent of body weight


AIDS or the third and final stage of HIV. The chance of progression is higher if a person with HIV isn’t receiving or adhering to treatment, such as antiretroviral therapy. Sometimes, AIDS is determined simply by a person’s overall health; it develops when HIV has significantly weakened the immune system and can lead to AIDS-defining conditions, such as certain infections and cancers, that are rare in people who don’t have HIV. Symptoms of AIDS include:

  • Persistent high fevers of over 100°F (37.8°C)
  • Diarrhea that lasts for longer than a week
  • Severe chills and night sweats
  • White spots in the mouth
  • Genital or anal sores
  • Severe fatigue
  • Rashes that can be brown, red, purple, or pink in color
  • Regular coughing and breathing problems
  • Significant weight loss
  • Persistent headaches
  • Memory problems and other neurological issues
  • Opportunistic infections, such as pneumonia, lymphoma, or tuberculosis

Managing symptoms

It’s important to start treatment as soon as HIV is diagnosed. Consult a doctor or other healthcare professional if you experience any new or worsening symptoms. The infection can be managed with antiretroviral drugs. These will need to be taken during all stages of HIV-even if there aren’t any noticeable symptoms.

HIV Prevention

However, there are ways to reduce the chance of contracting HIV. You might:

Use condoms every time you have sex or other barrier methodsproperly alongside water- or silicone-based lubricants to prevent breakage.
Test regularly for HIV and STIsan untreated STI can increase your chanceTrusted Source of contracting HIV.
Consider taking PrEPif you have a higher chance of contracting HIV, such as changing sexual partners often or your partners have HIV positive.
Try to have honest discussionswith partners about sexual health and histories.
Do not share needlesIf you use a needle to inject illicit drugs, make sure it’s sterile and don’t share it. Take advantage of needle-exchange programs in your community. Consider seeking help for your drug use.
If you’re pregnant, get medical care right away.If you’re HIV-positive, you may pass the infection to your baby. But if you receive treatment during pregnancy, you can significantly cut your baby’s risk.

Remember! Without HIV tests or treatment, people with HIV are more likely to develop AIDS. It is estimated that millions of people are currently living with HIV, and one in seven are unaware that they have HIV. Therefore, it is important to take HIV prevention and routine testing whenever you are at risk. If you know your status early, then you can plan a treatment quickly or prevent your partner from getting infected in future.

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