Within 30-60 days of HIV entering your body, around 40% of people start experiencing flu-like symptoms termed as ARS or Acute Retroviral Syndrome. But in some cases, symptoms of HIV do not appear for several years; as much as a decade.
Young parents looking affectionately at their baby wrapped in blanket, with a red ribbon
Most people do not notice any symptoms in the initial stages of having been infected with HIV. Around 20% of people suffering from HIV do not even know that they have been infected. That is why doctors suggest having regular HIV tests, especially if you get involved in unprotected sex or if you use drugs intravenously.
Here are a few signs that may suggest that you have HIV.
The very first sign of HIV infection is mild fever, accompanied by symptoms like fatigue, throat soreness, and swollen lymph glands.
Muscle ache and joint pain
The symptoms of ARS are very much similar to flu, viral infection, mononucleosis, hepatitis or syphilis, including swollen lymph nodes, joint and muscle pain. Lymph nodes are an important part of your immune system and they get inflamed in cases of infection. Some of them are located in your neck, groin and armpit.
Skin rash is a common symptom of HIV/AIDS, both in early and late stages of the infection. If you have a skin rash along with common fever, cold or allergy, it might suggest that there is something serious. Your skin rash may resemble boils and be accompanied by pink itchy areas on the arms. You can also have a rash on your body’s trunk. If your rash cannot be easily treated or explained, then chances are that you have HIV.
Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting
30% to 60% of HIV infected people experience vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea in the initial stages. Such signs may be the result of anti-retroviral therapy or an opportunistic infection. Unremitting or incurable diarrhea can be an indication of HIV infection.
Also termed as AIDS wasting, reduced weight can be a sign of severe diarrhea or an advanced disease. But if you are losing weight severely and continuously, then it may mean that your immune system is fairly being depleted. Even if you eat enough, you may continue losing weight, and your doctor may suggest you have an HIV test.
Dry cough is the first sign after which you may start thinking that there is something wrong. At first, it is dismissed as a bad allergy, but if it persists and worsens even after proper treatment, it may indicate an HIV infection.
Now that you know what may be the first signs of HIV, you should have an HIV test as soon as you notice a combination of any two or three of these symptoms.