When do early HIV symptoms first appear?

Answers from James M. Steckelberg, M.D.

Early HIV symptoms usually occur within a month or two after infection and are often like a bad case of the flu. In many people, early HIV signs and symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Rash

These early HIV symptoms are called acute retroviral syndrome or primary HIV infection and are the body's natural response. Symptoms, if they appear at all, usually disappear within a week to a month and are often mistaken for those of another viral infection. During this period, you are very infectious. More-persistent or more-severe symptoms of HIV infection may not appear for several years after the initial infection.

The symptoms that indicate an early HIV infection are extremely common. Often, you can't tell them apart from symptoms of another viral infection. If you're concerned that you might have been exposed to HIV, talk to your doctor about your testing options.

Nov. 14, 2014