What are the symptoms of HIV and when do they appear?

Most people who are infected with HIV experience a short, flu-like illness that occurs between two and six weeks after infection. After this, HIV often causes no symptoms for several years. It's estimated that up to 80% of people who are infected with HIV experience this flu-like illness.

The most common symptoms are:

  • fever (raised temperature)
  • sore throat
  • body rash

Other symptoms can include:

  • tiredness
  • joint pain
  • muscle pain
  • swollen glands (nodes)

The symptoms, which can last up to four weeks, are a sign that your immune system is fighting the virus.

These symptoms can all be caused by conditions other than HIV and do not mean you have the virus.

However, if you have several of these symptoms, and you think you have been at risk of HIV infection, you should get an HIV test.

After the initial symptoms disappear, HIV often does not cause any further symptoms for a few years.

This stage is sometimes referred to as "asymptomatic HIV infection", as the virus continues to spread and damage your immune system, but without any visible symptoms. This process can take about 10 years, during which you will feel and appear well.

Further information: 

Page last reviewed: 19/03/2014

Next review due: 19/03/2016