The symptoms of early HIV infection can be:
- Similar to symptoms of common cold or flu viruses.
- Similar to symptoms of other STI - Sexually Transmitted Infections and other infections such as “Mono” or hepatitis, which are much more commonly and more easily transmitted.
- Swollen lymph nodes.
- Sore throat.
- Weight loss.
- Joint pain.
- Sweating, excessive – night sweats.
- Bacterial pneumonia.
- Prolonged fever.
- Prolonged fatigue.
These symptoms can occur within days or weeks of the initial exposure to the virus during a period called primary or acute HIV infection.
If you are concerned that you may have recently acquired HIV and have symptoms described above, see a doctor. A doctor or other health care professional can help determine whether you may be infected with HIV or another infection. If HIV infection is suspected, he or she may perform a Polymerase Chain Reaction (commonly called “PCR”) test to determine whether HIV is present in the blood.
Once the primary or acute infection is over, most people do not experience any visible symptoms for another 8–10 years. Left untreated, the immune system becomes increasingly weaker and the disease progresses to AIDS. The next symptoms experienced by individuals infected with the virus are often associated with the “Opportunistic infections” that target individuals with AIDS such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and toxoplasmosis.