Early HIV infection

Recognizing the symptoms

An HIV infection has 4 stages. During the first stage (the early or acute infection), the virus is at its strongest. Your immune system is not yet combating the virus, meaning the number of virus particles rises rapidly in a short time. This is why during this stage you are more likely to pass it on to others. The virus hasn't been able to do much damage to your body yet. For this reason, it is important to recognize an early HIV infection and to start treatment as soon as possible.

Read more about the 4 stages of an HIV infection at

How to you recognize an early HIV infection
The symptoms of an early HIV infection are similar to severe influenza (flu) or infectious mononucleosis, otherwise known as glandular fever. From a few days up to a few months later, the symptoms disappear on their own, but the HIV infection is still there.

Symptoms of an early HIV infection do not appear as soon as you have the virus, but 10 days to a few months later. So if you've had unprotected sex* and you feel ill the next day, this is not an HIV infection. Keep in mind, if you start noticing symptoms 10 days or longer after unprotected sex; this may indicate an early HIV infection. 

If you’ve had unprotected sex but show no symptoms, you should get tested for HIV around 6 weeks later. You don’t always notice an HIV infection.

* sex without using a condom, without taking PrEP, or with a partner who does not have an undetectable viral load

The most common symptoms of an acute HIV infection

Fatigue or not feeling well
Skin rash
Muscle ache or pain in your joints
Sore throat
Swollen lymph nodes (glands)
Diarrhea that doesn't go away
Night sweats
Blisters in your mouth
Blisters on your genitals

Have you had unprotected sex and are you now experiencing any of these symptoms? That could mean that you have an acute HIV infection. Use the Symptom Checker to get advice!

Use the Symptom Checker to get advice

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