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Signs of HIV & AIDS


Updated May 16, 2014

Early Signs and Symptoms of HIV

Some people experience signs and symptoms of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), as soon as they become infected, while others do not. When they occur, early signs and symptoms are often mistaken for the flu or a mild viral infection. Initial signs and symptoms of HIV include:
  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Tiredness

  • Nausea

  • Diarrhea

  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin

Any symptoms from becoming infected typically resolve in one to four weeks.

As you can see, the signs and symptoms of HIV infection are similar to those for many different viral infections. The only way to know for sure if you are infected with HIV is to be tested. Many people infected with HIV do not have any signs and symptoms at all for many years.

Later Signs and Symptoms of HIV/AIDS

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says the following signs and symptoms may be warning signs of late-stage 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 lasting more than a week

  • white spots or unusual blemishes on the tongue, in the mouth, or in the throat

  • pneumonia

  • 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

HIV destroys the white blood cells that are required to fight infection. As the white cell count falls to dangerous levels, numerous infections and diseases emerge. It is at this point that a person is said to have AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

According to the CDC, as with an initial HIV infection, you cannot rely on these signs and symptoms to establish a diagnosis of AIDS. The symptoms of AIDS are similar to the symptoms of many other illnesses. AIDS is a medical diagnosis made by a healthcare professional based on specific criteria established by the CDC.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "How can I tell if I'm infected with HIV? What are the symptoms?" http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/qa/qa5.htm

Medically reviewed on 3/17/2010

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