HIV and AIDS - Symptoms 

Symptoms of HIV 

Most people who are infected with HIV experience a short, flu-like illness that occurs two to six weeks after infection. After this, HIV often causes no symptoms for several years.

The flu-like illness that often occurs a few weeks after HIV infection is also known as seroconversion illness. It's estimated that up to 80% of people who are infected with HIV experience this illness.

The most common symptoms are:

  • fever (raised temperature)
  • sore throat
  • body rash

Other symptoms can include:

  • tiredness
  • joint pain
  • muscle pain
  • swollen glands (nodes)

The symptoms, which can last up to four weeks, are a sign that your immune system is putting up a fight against the virus. 

These symptoms can all be caused by conditions other than HIV, and do not mean you have the virus.

However, if you have several of these symptoms, and you think you have been at risk of HIV infection, you should get an HIV test.

After the initial symptoms disappear, HIV will often not cause any further symptoms for many years. During this time, known as asymptomatic HIV infection, the virus continues to spread and damage your immune system. This process can take about 10 years, during which you will feel and appear well.

It is important to remember that not everyone with HIV experiences early symptoms, so you should still take an HIV test if you have put yourself as risk, even if you experience no symptoms.

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Late-stage HIV infection

If left untreated, HIV will weaken your ability to fight infection so much that you become vulnerable to serious illnesses.

This stage of infection is known as AIDS, although doctors now prefer to use the term late-stage HIV infection.

Typically, a person with late-stage HIV infection has:

  • persistent tiredness
  • night sweats
  • weight loss
  • persistent diarrhoea
  • blurred vision
  • white spots on the tongue or mouth
  • dry cough
  • shortness of breath
  • fever of above 37C (100F) that lasts a number of weeks
  • swollen glands that last for more than three months

At this stage, you are at increased risk of life-threatening illnesses such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and some cancers. Many of these, though serious, can be treated and your health is likely to improve if you start HIV treatment.

Read more about treating HIV.

Page last reviewed: 28/08/2012

Next review due: 28/08/2014


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The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

evans90 said on 07 November 2013

i meet a bar girl unfortunately i had sex with her with out condom once,after having the sex i took Hiv prevention drugs, then i had the sex with her on September 4. i went for hiv test it the same september it was negative, i did another hiv test on october it was negative, and november 4 i did again another test in two clinic all came out negative,which it total of 64 days after sex with her. but the worst of it all the lady i had sex with i called her to meet me in the clinic i have hot body,cold and itching inside my vain, so i have to visit the doctor, then after she was test positive OMG. since. i dont have any of this hiv symptom, such a rash,cough, headache,sore throat, high fever, my fever tested was 37c. but the doctor said i have low white blood cell. that i have Dengue, then i was treated after two days my white blood cell is normal again, but how come my partner is positive. up to 62 days i am still negative, can it be the hiv prevention drugs did it or the virus it not yet in my blood or i cant contact it with once making of love with her. because i after that about two weeks time i had urine infection i treated it, but i am still nervous. i want to know how many days or month can one contact hiv after having unprotected sex, after the treatment of dengue now. i have ask the laboratory test of hepatitis A,B,C.. including jaundice. i want an advices urgently please

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Mal1990 said on 27 November 2012

I had unprotected sex, the next evening evening i took the morning after pill. A numbe rof days after i took the morning after pill i developed a urinary tract infection. Is it likely that this infection developed as I have been exposed to HIV during my sexual encounter. This was a couple month'sback, but since then i've been feeling very tired, so i'm scared. Any views?

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