Symptoms vary from person to person. The only way to be sure if you have HIV is to have an HIV test. You cannot tell from symptoms alone.
If you have HIV, it’s very important that it’s diagnosed, for the best chance of getting treatment and care, and of staying well.
Many people have a short, flu-like illness, often called a ‘seroconversion’ illness, soon after they are infected with HIV. Typical symptoms include a fever, sore throat, swollen glands, aches and pains, and a blotchy rash.
In some people this illness is so mild that it passes without being noticed. Some people mistake it for the flu, but for some people it is more severe and they may need to see a doctor. However, because the symptoms are similar to symptoms of many other conditions, HIV might not be diagnosed at the time.
After this initial illness, it’s not uncommon for people to live with HIV and not to have any symptoms at all. But the virus will still be causing damage to the immune system, and without treatment most people with HIV will eventually become ill because of it.
HIV-related illnesses can cause a wide range of symptoms. These can include fevers and night sweats, a high temperature, a cough that won’t go away, unexplained weight loss, severe diarrhoea, bad headaches, or persistent mouth and skin problems. Of course, these can all have other causes.