Most people who are recently infected with HIV have visible symptoms, but many do not feel sick at all during this time. In the first few days to the first week or so after infection, there aren’t any specific signs of HIV. However, within two to four weeks after exposure as the immune system fights the infection, a person might have flu-like symptoms such as:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Rash
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Muscle aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Tiredness

Mouth and genital ulcers and weight loss are also possible symptoms of seroconversion (the time when a person goes from being HIV-negative to HIV-positive). In rare cases, these symptoms may occur within a few days after the exposure took place.

These HIV symptoms usually go away after a week or two. If they occur at all, they may be so mild they’re hardly noticeable. For some people they are severe enough to warrant seeing a doctor. Also, during this time a person can more easily pass the infection onto others.

It’s important to keep in mind that these symptoms are almost identical to many other illnesses. That’s why HIV testing is so important. If you think you have been exposed to HIV, get an HIV test. Visit the POZ Health Services Directory and type in your ZIP code to find a testing site in your area.

Last Reviewed: January 5, 2023