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What Are the Early Signs of an HIV Infection?

The early signs of HIV infection can mimic the symptoms of the flu. Symptoms to keep an eye out for include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Ulcers in the mouth or on the genitals
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Headache
  • Thrush, which is an infection of the mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Being tired all the time
  • Joint or muscle pain

Most of these symptoms last from a few days to a few weeks, and typically stick around longer than the standard flu. In all, these symptoms are experienced by 40% to 90% of people within the first four weeks after infection.

Because these symptoms are all associated with other types of illnesses and conditions, experiencing them doesn’t mean you have HIV. Additionally, some people don’t show any symptoms of HIV for up to 10 years after infection. If you think you’ve been exposed to HIV, the only way to know your status for certain is to get tested. That way, if you determine that you do have HIV, you can begin treatment to stop the progression of HIV. The earlier you start treatment, the more successful it generally is at preventing the virus from progressing and protecting your partners from infection.

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