Many people in the world do not know that they are infected with the deadly HIV. In the United States.it is likely that 14% of HIV-positive individuals are unaware of their infection. Within a month or two of HIV entering the body, 40% to 90% of people experience flu-like symptoms known as acute retroviral syndrome (ARS). But sometimes HIV symptoms don’t appear for years—sometimes even a decade—after infection. In the early stages of HIV infection, the symptoms are not visible. Hence it is very important to get tested, especially if you have unprotected sex with more than one partner or use intravenous drugs.
Some people recently infected with HIV will experience some “flu-like” symptoms. These might include:
One of the first signs of ARS can be a mild fever, up to about 102 degrees F. The fever, if it occurs at all, is often accompanied by other usually mild symptoms, such as fatigue, swollen lymph glands, and a sore throat. At this point the virus is moving into the blood stream and starting to replicate in large numbers, which leads to an an inflammatory reaction by the immune system.
The inflammatory response generated by your besieged immune system also can cause you to feel tired and lethargic. Fatigue can be both an early and later sign of HIV.
- Joint pain and aches in the muscles
ARS is often mistaken for the flu, mononucleosis, or another viral infection, even syphilis or hepatitis. That’s not surprising: Many of the symptoms are the same, including pain in the joints and muscles and swollen lymph glands.
- Sore throat and headache
The initial symptoms of acute HIV infection include headache and sore throat. Not only that, but the person may also suffer from red rash that doesn’t itch, nausea and vomiting.
An HIV-affected person may also show symptoms like:
- unusual lesions on the tongue; skin rashes and bumps
- cough and shortness of breath
- fever, chills, and night sweats
- rapid weight loss
- blurred or distorted vision
- Other symptoms of infection or disease
- Memory loss, depression, and other neurologic disorders.
If you notice any of the symptoms presented here, ask your doctor for an HIV test. It’s a simple blood test. You can even order a home HIV test kit online, using the FDA-approved OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, which doesn’t require you to send the sample to a lab. You can test yourself and see results within an hour. Also remember, you can have HIV and not have any symptoms, and some HIV tests will not show a positive result for as long as 3 months after infection.