When do early HIV symptoms first appear?

Answer From Pritish K. Tosh, M.D.

Early HIV symptoms most often appear 2 to 4 weeks after a person catches the virus. The symptoms can seem like a bad case of the flu. They often include:

  • Fever and chills.
  • Headache.
  • Tiredness.
  • Swollen lymph glands.
  • Rash.
  • Sore joints, muscles or throat.
  • Weight loss.

Early HIV symptoms are called acute retroviral syndrome or acute HIV infection. The symptoms are the body's natural response to the virus. Many people with HIV get flu-like symptoms of it early on, but some people don't. More-serious or longer lasting symptoms may not show up for years after a person first catches the virus.

The early symptoms of HIV often go away within a week to a month. The risk of spreading the virus is very high during this time. If you're concerned that you might have been exposed to HIV, talk to your health care provider about getting tested.

Treatment can help people with HIV lead long, healthy lives. The drugs that treat HIV also can lower the risk of passing the virus to a partner.


Pritish K. Tosh, M.D.

From Mayo Clinic to your inbox

Sign up for free and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips, current health topics, and expertise on managing health. Click here for an email preview.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Jan. 11, 2023 See more Expert Answers