Most people experience some symptoms shortly after infection with HIV. This is commonly referred to as seroconversion illness (SCI), or primary HIV infection. It usually occurs in over 60% of people around two to six weeks after they have been infected.
The main symptoms of SCI are:
- A sore throat
- Body aches
- A rash
Other common symptoms include:
- Mouth ulcers
- Joint pain
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Muscle pain
- Feeling overly tired or sick.
These symptoms are only linked to infection with HIV if you have put yourself at risk (such as unsafe sex) in the last six weeks. Because these symptoms are common to other illnesses, many people do not realise that they are a sign that they have become infected with HIV.
What do I do if I have these symptoms?
If you have any of these symptoms and have had unsafe sex in the last six weeks, it is worth visiting your doctor or sexual health clinic and getting tested for HIV so that you know what your HIV status is. Different HIV tests will be appropriate, depending on how long ago your risk was. Men who have recently been infected have very high levels of viral load which makes it more likely that HIV will be transmitted if they have unprotected sex. Even if you have had recent risky sex, it does not necessarily mean that those flu-like symptoms are seroconversion illness. It could just be the flu.