HIV symptoms vary from person to person, and because many other common illnesses share these symptoms, the only way to be certain that you have HIV is to have an HIV test.
Many people with HIV have flu-like symptoms, typically called a “seroconversion” illness, just weeks after becoming infected. Typical symptoms are fever, sore throat, swollen glands, aches and pains and will often include a blotchy rash. On occasion, it’s possible for these symptoms to go unnoticed as anything serious, while other people will experience these symptoms more severely and need to see a doctor. A visit to a GP or hospital is no guarantee that HIV will be detected though as unless HIV is specifically tested for, it will not be detected.
After this initial illness, it’s not uncommon for people who are infected to have no symptoms whatsoever. However, the virus will still be doing damage to the immune system and will eventually make a person ill.
If you notice these symptoms within a few weeks of thinking you might have contracted HIV, visit your GP or sexual health clinic for an HIV test. Other tests, for example home- testing kits, are only accurate 3 months after infection. Testing early can give you peace of mind and will allow you to take control of your health.
Remember if the result is positive – although a serious medical condition, HIV isn’t a death sentence. With ongoing treatment, people with HIV can live long and healthy lives.