HIV signs and symptoms are not always the same. They differ from person to person and depend on HIV’s stage which is divided into 3 categories

  • initial stage
  • dormant stage
  • advanced stage

This article will discuss the basic signs and symptoms of HIV in each of these stages. However, it should be noted that not all HIV-positive persons will have these symptoms.

Furthermore, you cannot rely on these signs and symptoms alone to determine whether or not you are infected with HIV. The only way to accurately find out is through medical testing.

HIV – early stage

After contracting the HIV virus, 40-90% of the infected individuals exhibit symptoms similar to those of flu. These symptoms usually appear within two to four weeks after contracting the virus. During this stage, which is usually referred to as “acute HIV infection,” some infected individuals do not exhibit any symptoms or feel sick at all.

  • Ulcers on the mouth
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Tiredness
  • A sore throat
  • Joint and muscle pains
  • Night chills and sweats
  • Rashes
  • Fever


The above-mentioned signs and symptoms usually last from a couple of days to a few weeks. During this stage, the infection may not be detected by some forms of HIV tests. However, those infected by the virus can transmit it easily to others because the virus is highly contagious during this stage.

Do not immediately jump to the conclusion that you are HIV-positive simply because you are experiencing the symptoms mentioned above. Other health conditions or diseases can be accompanied by similar symptoms.

Furthermore, there are also numerous cases wherein an HIV-positive individual did not exhibit any signs or symptoms at all for a decade or more.

HIV – dormant stage

When the initial stage of HIV finishes, it enters the second stage called “chronic infection” or the “dormant stage.” It’s called “dormant” because usually during this stage, there are no symptoms being exhibited. If any, they are usually very mild and negligible.

For those who are not undergoing treatment for HIV (referred to as antiretroviral therapy), the dormant stage can last 10 years or more, but some could go through this stage quicker.

As for those undergoing HIV treatment and those who take their HIV medications on time without fail daily, may experience the dormant stage for a couple of decades since the HIV virus is kept in check by the treatment.

It should be noted that even if an infected individual exhibits no symptoms, they can still transmit the virus to others during this stage.

HIV – advanced stage


By the time an HIV-positive individual reaches the advanced stage, his or her immune system has been severely compromised, resulting in the HIV complicating into AIDS. Some of the most common symptoms of AIDS include the following:

  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Purple, pink, brown, or red blotches inside the eyelids, nose, or mouth, or on or under the skin
  • Pneumonia
  • Sores on the genitals, anus, and mouth
  • Diarrhea that lasts for over seven days
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, groin, and armpits
  • Unexplained and severe fatigue
  • Intense night chills and sweats
  • Chronic fever
  • Unexplained weight loss

Like with the symptoms of HIV during the initial and dormant stages, the symptoms specified above can also be related to other health conditions and should be further discussed with your doctor if you have any doubt. The only way to determine if HIV is indeed the cause of the symptoms is to undergo testing.

If you liked this article you might want to check related articles linked below.

Top 10 misconceptions about HIV/AIDS

What should I ask my doctor about HIV/AIDS?

Prevent HIV through the use of condoms


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