HIV may not cause symptoms for many years. The first ones often feel like the flu. The virus is quickly reproducing during this time. The body’s immune system is mounting a defense. During this phase, a person can still pass HIV to others.
The first symptoms that appear are:
After these go away, a person may not notice anything for months or many years. Despite this, the virus is growing and damaging the immune system. During this time, a person can pass HIV to others.
Over the next 1 to 3 years, symptoms may include:
Untreated HIV progresses to AIDS. The immune system is weak. This can lead to opportunistic infections. These infections happen in people who have a weak immune system. People with AIDS get them because their body cannot fight them off.
Common opportunistic infections are:
A weak immune system from AIDs can also lead to:
Acute HIV infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/acute-hiv-infection. Accessed November 10, 2021.
AIDS and opportunistic infections. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/livingwithhiv/opportunisticinfections.html. Accessed November 10, 2021.
HIV/AIDS clinical guidelines. Clinical Info.gov website. Available at: https://clinicalinfo.hiv.gov/en/guidelines. Accessed November 10, 2021.
Sexually transmitted infections treatment guidelines 2021. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment-guidelines/. Accessed November 10, 2021.
Last reviewed November 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 11/10/2021