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HIV Center

HIV Symptoms

Symptoms of HIV
Symptoms of HIV appear at different times for different people.  In fact, there is a great deal of difference in timing and manifestation of HIV symptoms.  For example, some symptoms of HIV may take as long as 10 years before they manifest in adults but children born with HIV may develop symptoms of the virus within 2 years.   Regardless of the appearance of symptoms, however, if a person contracts HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus is will infect, attack, and kill T cells. 

In general, symptoms of HIV are usually NOT PRESENT when a person becomes initially infected.  One to two months after infection, however, a person may have enlarged lymph nodes (in the neck and groin), fever, headache, and feel tired.  Because these symptoms resemble the flu and pass after a week or month, these symptoms alone are often mistaken for other illness(es).  The HIV virus can be transmitted to other people during this time. When symptoms do become more severe, they may include the following: 

HIV symptoms include:

  • Development of shingles
  • Frequent and severe herpes infections
  • Frequent fevers and sweats
  • Increasing sickness (in children)
  • Lack of energy
  • Persistent skin rashes or flaky skin
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Slow development (in children)
  • Swollen lymph nodes lasting for more than 3 months
  • Weight loss

Women may experience additional symptoms of the HIV virus, including more frequent human papillomavirus (HPV) infections; more frequent and severe pelvic inflammatory disease; and more frequent and severe vaginal yeast infections.

When to seek help
If you engage in any behaviours that could increase the likelihood of contracting HIV ((e.g. unprotected sex; using needles used by other people, etc.), or if you experience any of the above symptoms, you should see your doctor for HIV screening.  Continue reading for information about HIV testing in our How to Diagnose HIV section now.

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