People with an HIV infection experience different symptoms in the early and late stages of infection. Mostly, these symptoms are the same in women and men, but some symptoms are unique to women.
At first, a person with HIV will not have any visible symptoms.
|HIV symptoms can also be caused by other illnesses.|
An HIV test is the only way to tell for sure whether you have HIV.
A few weeks after infection, many people may have flu-like symptoms, which then disappear after a while. These symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, and enlarged lymph glands in the neck and groin area. Other people infected with HIV may have no symptoms.
However, even if people with HIV feel healthy, HIV is still affecting their bodies. Once HIV enters the body, it infects large numbers of CD4+ cells and rapidly spreads throughout the body and into many organ systems. During this early period, people are highly infectious because HIV is present in large amounts in genital fluids and in blood. Untreated HIV is associated with many diseases including heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, and cancer. Some people may have more severe symptoms at first, while others may have no symptoms for 10 years or more.
AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection, when a person's immune system is severely weakened and has difficulty fighting infections and certain cancers. At this stage, serious symptoms occur that can include rapid weight loss; serious infections; pneumonia; recurrent fevers; prolonged swelling of the lymph glands; recurring fever to blotches on the skin; prolonged diarrhea; sores of the mouth, anus, or genitals; and memory loss, depression, and other neurologic disorders.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases has more comprehensive information about the symptoms of HIV/AIDS.