Many people do not have any symptoms when they first become infected with HIV. Some people have a flu-like illness within a month or two after exposure to the virus. These early symptoms, which usually disappear within a week to a month, include:
- Sore throat
- Headache and other body aches
- Enlarged lymph nodes (glands of the immune system, easily felt in the neck or groin)
During this period, people are very infectious, and HIV is present in large quantities in blood and genital fluids.
Adults may be symptom-free for months – or as much as ten years or more – after HIV first enters their body before more persistent or severe symptoms appear. During this symptom-free period, individuals are infectious and can transmit the HIV virus to others. In children born with HIV infection, these symptoms are likely to appear within two years. These chronic symptoms include:
- Large lymph nodes or swollen glands that may be enlarged for more than three months
- Lack of energy
- Weight loss
- Frequent fevers and sweats
- Persistent or frequent yeast infections (oral or vaginal)
- Persistent skin rashes or flaky skin
- Pelvic inflammatory disease in women that does not respond to treatment
- Short-term memory loss
- Children may grow slowly or be sick a lot.