What Are the Early Warning Signs of HIV?

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During its earliest stage, stage one, most HIV symptoms are similar to what you might experience with the flu, allergies, or the common cold. Typically, they come on between two weeks and two months after transmission, and not everyone experiences all of the same symptoms. Some people may not experience any symptoms at all. That’s why, if you believe you’re at risk, it’s important to monitor any changes in your body and get tested as soon as possible.

The earlier HIV is detected and diagnosed, the easier it is to get under control with medication. If not treated, it may advance rapidly. Once it advances to stage three or turns into AIDS, it can weaken your immune system, lead to more severe symptoms, and even cause death. To prevent this, learn the early signs of HIV.


In the earliest days after you’ve contracted HIV, all you may feel is a headache that comes and goes. It’s easy to dismiss this warning sign because many people get headaches every day, but if there’s a chance you’ve contracted HIV, go ahead and get tested just to put your mind at ease.

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Fatigue and tiredness are other symptoms you may experience in the early days. However, because we live in a stressful world, they’re also easier symptoms to dismiss. If you’re feeling unusually tired or it doesn’t go away with proper rest, get tested for HIV if you think you’ve been exposed.

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Fatigue and headaches may be easy to dismiss, but a rash is less common. It typically appears on your torso and won’t itch like other rashes do. You may also find that you have sores on your body, particularly in your mouth or on your genitals or anus. However, these sores are usually a sign of more advanced HIV or AIDS.

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During the earlier days after you’ve contracted HIV, you may run a low-grade fever. For most people, that means a temperature above 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit up to 100.8F. It may come and go or last for weeks. Night sweats may accompany it. This is one of your body’s first responses when it realizes something is wrong.

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Muscle Aches

Muscle aches and joint pain may be early signs of HIV, especially if they occur for seemingly no reason. This is another symptom that’s easy to mistake for a common cold or flu. If your body hurts and there’s no other cause, such as exercising more than normal or having the flu, get tested just in case.

Swollen Glands

A sore throat is often a common symptom of early-stage HIV, and it may be accompanied by swollen glands in your neck or the back of your head. You may also find that you have swollen glands in other sensitive places, such as under your arms or in your groin area. The swelling often lasts for weeks or months at a time, and it’s one of the most common first symptoms that alert people who test positive for HIV. Essentially, this response is your body’s immune system preparing itself to fight the disease.

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Increased Infections

HIV compromises your immune system, making it harder to fight off other infections and recover from health problems. If HIV itself doesn’t present any symptoms during its earliest stages, you may notice that you’re experiencing more infections than you normally would. Yeast infections, eye infections, brain infections, kidney infections, infections of the digestive tract and lung infections are all common. They’re also harder for your doctor to treat if you have HIV. You’ll even find that it’s more difficult to fight off common health issues like colds or the flu.

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