The symptoms of HIV vary from person to person and many people don’t experience any symptoms when they first become infected with HIV. Some might have a flu-like illness, called HIV sero-conversion syndrome, within one to two months after exposure to the virus. This illness may cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- Muscle pain
- Mouth ulcers
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
These symptoms may be the body’s first reaction to being infected with HIV and may last up to several months.
After the first stage has passed, most people with HIV will start to look and feel healthier but the virus is still affecting their bodies and it may go undetected. During this time, the virus will multiply and can be passed to other people. It can take 10 years or more for HIV to show any symptoms. That’s why it’s really important to get tested for HIV regularly, especially if you’ve had unprotected sex or shared needles.
After up to 10 years with an untreated HIV infection, the virus has damaged your immune system. At this point, you’re more likely to get serious infections or diseases as your body is no longer able to fight off. These infections are known as ‘opportunistic infections‘.
If a person develops certain serious opportunistic infections or diseases, they are considered to have AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). This is the late stage of HIV infection.
Symptoms of AIDS can include:
- Recurring fever
- Diarrhea that lasts for more than a week
- Rapid weight loss
- Prolonged swelling of the lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck
- Depression, memory loss, and other neurological disorders
Each of these symptoms can also be related to other illnesses. So, the only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested.
If you have HIV/ AIDS, it’s important to get the treatment as soon as possible. With the right treatment, a person can recover from AIDS-related infections and diseases, and keep HIV under control. The earlier you’re diagnosed with HIV and start treatment, the better your health will be.