HIV may not cause symptoms
early on. People who do have symptoms may mistake them for the
mono. Common early symptoms include:
Symptoms may appear from a few days to several weeks
after a person is first infected. The early symptoms usually go away within 2
to 3 weeks.
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. These symptoms usually
- Swollen lymph nodes.
- Weight loss.
A doctor may suspect HIV if symptoms last and no
other cause can be found.
have been exposed to HIV, your immune system will make antibodies to try to
destroy the virus. Doctors use tests to find these antibodies in urine, saliva, or blood.
If a test on urine or saliva shows that you are infected
with HIV, you will probably have a blood test to confirm the results.
Most doctors use two blood tests, called the ELISA and the Western blot. If the ELISA is positive (meaning that HIV antibodies are found),
a Western blot or other test will be done to be sure.
It may take as long as 6 months
for HIV antibodies to show up in your blood. If you think you have been
exposed to HIV but you test negative for it:
- Get tested again. Tests at 6, 12, and 24 weeks can be done to be sure you
are not infected.
- Meanwhile, take steps to prevent the spread of
the virus, in case you do have it.
You can get HIV testing in most
doctors' offices, public health clinics, hospitals, and Planned Parenthood
clinics. You can also buy a home HIV test kit in a drugstore or by mail order. Make sure it's one that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If a home test is positive, see a doctor to
have the result confirmed and to find out what to do next.