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HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) Infection - Symptoms

HIV may not cause symptoms early on. People who do have symptoms may mistake them for the flu or mono. Early symptoms of HIV are called acute retroviral syndrome. The symptoms may include:

  • Belly cramps, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, and groin.
  • Fever.
  • Headache.
  • Muscle aches and joint pain.
  • Skin rash.
  • Sore throat.
  • Weight loss.

These first symptoms can range from mild to severe and usually disappear on their own after 2 to 3 weeks. But many people don't have symptoms or they have such mild symptoms that they don't notice them at this stage.

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After the early symptoms go away, an infected person may not have symptoms again for many years. After a certain point, symptoms reappear and then remain.

Untreated HIV infection progresses in stages. These stages are based on your symptoms and the amount of the virus in your blood.

Later symptoms

Later symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea or other bowel changes.
  • Fatigue.
  • Fever.
  • Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss.
  • Dry cough or shortness of breath.
  • Nail changes.
  • Night sweats.
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, and groin.
  • Pain when swallowing.
  • Confusion, trouble concentrating, or personality changes.
  • Repeated outbreaks of cold sores or genital herpes sores.
  • Tingling, numbness, and weakness in the limbs.
  • Mouth sores or a yeast infection of the mouth (thrush).

Symptoms in women and children

HIV may be suspected when a woman has at least one of the following:

Children who have HIV often have different symptoms (for example, delayed growth or an enlarged spleen) than teens or adults.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: August 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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