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:
- Fever, night sweats
- Excess tiredness
- Swollen glands in armpits, neck, or groin
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Joint pain
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:
- Swollen glands all over the body
- Fungal infections of:
- The mouth, fingernails, toes
- The vagina (yeast infections)
- Other health problems that get worse such as eczema, psoriasis, or genital herpes
- Fever, night sweats
- Weight loss
- Long lasting diarrhea
- Memory loss
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:
- Thrush—an overgrowth of yeast in the mouth
- Pneumocystis pneumonia
- Invasive fungal infections
- Toxoplasmosis infection
- Certain cancers, such as:
- Uncommon intestinal infections
- Severe skin rashes
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