Symptoms and Warning Signs of HIV
There are no reliable or specific symptoms of HIV. The only sure way to know if you have been infected with HIV is to be tested. Some people never have any symptoms, even if they have been infected for years. Others may have flu-like symptoms that present around two to six weeks after infection, which cannot be distinguished from the flu virus or from a variety of other diseases. Even though there is not a specific set of symptoms for HIV virus, there are some warning signs that you can watch for.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the following may be warning signs of advanced HIV infection:
- rapid weight loss
- dry cough
- recurring fever or profuse night sweats
- profound and unexplained fatigue
- swollen lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck
- diarrhea that lasts for more than a week
- white spots or unusual blemishes on the tongue, in the mouth, or in the throat
- red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids
- memory loss, depression, and other neurological disorders
How to Know For Sure
No one should assume they are infected with HIV if they have any of the warning signs listed above. Each of these symptoms can be related to other illnesses. Again, the only way to determine whether you are infected is to be tested for HIV infection.
Similarly, you cannot rely on these symptoms to establish that a person has AIDS. The symptoms of AIDS are similar to the symptoms of many other illnesses. AIDS is a medical diagnosis made by a doctor based on specific criteria established by the CDC.
Getting tested is the only way to know for sure if you have been infected with the HIV virus. There are resources, such as certain clinics, that are confidential and provide HIV testing. You can also ask your health care provider to give you an HIV test.
More information on where to locate an HIV testing site can be found by visiting the CDC’s website- National HIV and STD Testing Resources.
To Learn More:
- HIV and AIDs Basics: Prevention and Risks
- HIV in Infants and Children
- Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV
- Women and HIV
- Getting Tested for HIV
- Types of HIV Tests
- HIV Test Sensitivity: False Negative and False Positive Results
- HIV Transmission and Oral Sex
- Transmission Risk by Sexual Interaction
- Your HIV Positive Partner and You
- Back to HIV and AIDs Overview
For more information:
Go to the HIV and AIDS health topic.