In the initial stages of HIV infection, most people will have very few, if any, symptoms. Within a month or two after infection, individuals may experience a flu-like illness, including:
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck and groin area
These symptoms usually disappear within a week to a month and are often mistaken for another viral infection, such as flu. However, during this period people are highly infectious because HIV is present in large quantities in genital fluids and blood. Some people infected with HIV may experience more severe symptoms initially or a longer duration of clinical symptoms, while others may remain symptom-free for 10 years or more.
During the late stages of HIV infection, the virus severely weakens the immune system, and people infected with the virus may experience the following symptoms:
- Rapid weight loss
- Recurring fever or profuse night sweats
- Extreme and unexplained fatigue
- Prolonged swelling of the lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck
- Diarrhea that lasts for more than a week
- Sores of the mouth, anus, or genitals
- Red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids
- Memory loss, depression, and other neurologic disorders.
Each of these symptoms can be related to other illnesses. The only way to determine if you are infected with HIV is to get tested.
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