The first signs of HIV infection may be flu-like symptoms, but some people experience no symptoms in the first few weeks after infection. Dr. Alvarado, can you tell us more?
Certainly, Dr. Mayzik. A person is highly infectious during the acute stage of infection, which is the first two to four weeks after contact with the virus. This is true even if a person doesn't have any symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may include:
- Night sweats
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes, and
- Mouth ulcers
These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. After symptoms go away, there may be a period of years when a person has no symptoms at all. This phase is known as chronic HIV infection. Even during this chronic infection period, the virus is still active and can be transmitted to others.
The only way to know for sure if a person has HIV is through lab tests. HIV testing can be performed on samples of blood, oral fluid, or urine. It's recommended that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested at least once as part of routine health care. People at higher risk should get tested more often.