Most people who become infected with HIV only experience short, flu-like symptoms that occur two to six weeks after infection.After this initial illness, HIV often causes no symptoms for several years. In around 1 in 5 cases there can be no symptoms at all.
The common symptoms of the flu-like illness that occurs a few weeks after HIV infection are:
- fever (raised temperature)
- sore throat
- body rash
Other less common symptoms may include:
- joint pain
- muscle pain
- swollen glands (nodes)
Symptoms such as this usually last only one to two weeks, though can last longer.They are a sign that your immune system is putting up a fight against the virus.
However, these symptoms are most commonly caused by conditions other than HIV such as the flu, and do not mean you have the virus.If you have several of these symptoms, and you think you have been at risk of HIV infection within the past few weeks, 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, the virus will continue to be active and cause progressive damage to your immune system.This process can take about 10 years, during which you will feel and appear well.
Once the immune system becomes severely damaged symptoms can include:
- weight loss
- chronic diarrhoea
- night sweats
- skin problems
- recurrent infections
- serious life-threatening illnesses
Earlier diagnosis and treatment of HIV can prevent these problems, so if you believe you've been at risk order your HIV test now.