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10 Symptoms of HIV: World AIDS Day

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Health writer | Editor | Public Health Researcher
Symptoms of HIV

In this article, we explore the key symptoms of HIV, from early signs to chronic indicators. Learn how to recognize potential HIV-related issues and the importance of early detection for effective management.

What the Statistics Say:

  • 38,000,000 estimated number of people were living with HIV in 2019.
  • 1,700,000 people were newly infected with HIV in 2019.
  • 690,000 people died of HIV-related causes in 2019.
  • 68% of adults living with HIV received lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART) in 2019.

The Key Symptoms of HIV: All You Need to Know

Whether you are HIV positive or not, it is important that you have an adequate understanding of HIV symptoms, as well as the early signs, chronic indicators, and the significance of recognizing potential HIV-related issues.

Knowing these symptoms is not only essential for individuals at risk but also plays a crucial role in promoting early detection and effective management.

1. Early Signs of HIV:

One of the most noticeable sign are the flu-like symptoms associated with the initial weeks after contracting HIV. From fever and fatigue to muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes, these early signs, collectively known as acute retroviral syndrome (ARS), are explored in detail as you read further.

2. Chronic Indicators:

Some persistent symptoms may signal the progression of HIV. You can notice these from ongoing fatigue, recurring fevers and prolonged diarrhea. Recognizing these chronic indicators becomes vital in identifying potential HIV-related issues.

3. Skin Issues and HIV:

There’s a relationship between HIV and skin problems. They can come in the form of rashes, sores, and lesions that may manifest as a result of opportunistic infections or medication side effects.

4. Respiratory System Impact:

HIV can affect the respiratory system, leading to symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, and persistent chest infections. Individuals with advanced HIV or AIDS may be more susceptible to respiratory illnesses due to a weakened immune system.

5. Drastic Weight Loss:

Unexplanable and unintentional weight loss can be one of the symptoms of HIV infection. A weakened immune system may impact the body’s ability to maintain weight, so it is important to address significant, unexplained weight loss promptly.

6. Neurological Symptoms:

HIV also impacts on the central nervous system, resulting in neurological symptoms such as memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and changes in behavior. Severe cases can progress to neurocognitive disorders.

7. Gastrointestinal Issues:

HIV can lead to digestive problems, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, and chronic gastrointestinal infections.

8. Opportunistic Infections:

One of the hallmarks of advanced HIV infection—increased susceptibility to opportunistic infections. They can come in various forms, affecting different organs and systems of the body.

9. Oral Health Problems:

HIV can also show signs on oral health by introducing conditions like thrush, ulcers, and persistent gum problems. This is why it is very important to go for regular dental check-ups.

10. Swollen Glands:

Another possible symptom of HIV is enlarged lymph nodes, particularly in the neck, armpits, or groin. This is usually a potential sign of an immune system response to infection.


In conclusion, understanding the symptoms of HIV is crucial for early detection and effective management. While this article provides a comprehensive guide, it’s essential to remember that the absence of symptoms does not guarantee the absence of HIV.

Regular testing, particularly for individuals engaging in high-risk behaviors, is important for early diagnosis and timely intervention.

By raising awareness and promoting informed healthcare practices, we contribute to a healthier, more proactive approach to managing HIV.

Do you experience any of these symptoms and suspect you may bet at risk of contracting HIV, Talk to an Expert Doctor today.

Symptoms of HIV

What can you do to help flatten the curve?

You can help to reduce the number of new infections by being more intentional about your hygiene and sexual health amongst others.

Go for routine HIV screening as well as practice Safe Sex and Sexual Responsibility.


Frequently Asked Questions about HIV/AIDS

  1. Is HIV different from AIDS?

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a term that applies to the most advanced stages of HIV infection. It is defined by the occurrence of any of the more than 20 life-threatening cancers or “opportunistic infections”, so named because they take advantage of a weakened immune system. AIDS was a defining feature of the earlier years of the HIV epidemic, before antiretroviral therapy (ART) became available. Now, as more people access ART, the majority of people living with HIV will not progress to AIDS.

2. How is HIV infection treated?

While there is no cure for HIV infection, it can be treated using antiretroviral drugs, which work by stopping the replication of the virus. ART can reduce the level of virus to such low levels in the body that the immune system will function normally, and a person living with HIV can enjoy good health, provided they adhere to treatment and the treatment remains effective. People living with HIV are also much less likely to transmit the virus to others when treatment is working.

3. How effective are condoms in preventing HIV?

When used correctly and consistently every time a person has sex, condoms are among the most effective means of preventing HIV infection in women and men. 

4. Is there a cure for HIV?

No, there is currently no cure for HIV. Science is moving at a fast pace, and there have been 3 people who have achieved a ‘functional cure’ by undergoing a bone marrow transplant for cancer with re-infusion of new CD4 T cells that are unable to be infected with HIV. However, neither a cure nor a vaccine is available to treat and protect all people currently living with or at risk of HIV. But with good and continued adherence to ART, HIV infection can be contained and managed as a chronic health condition. In all parts of the world, people living with HIV are now surviving and thriving into old age.  

5. How can people get tested for HIV?

Testing for HIV is the only way to know if a person has HIV or not. HIV can be diagnosed using rapid diagnostic tests that provide results within minutes. However, such results should only be considered as a full diagnosis following review and confirmation by a qualified health worker. 

Knowledge of one’s HIV-positive status has two important benefits:

  • People who test positive can take steps to get treatment, care and support before symptoms appear, which can prolong life and prevent health complications for many years.
  • People who are aware of their status can take precautions to prevent the transmission of HIV to others. 

A HIV/AIDS world is possible.

It begins with you!

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Ginika Oluchi Okeke

Ginika is the Lead health writer at KompleteCare. She also doubles as an editor and proofreader for everything that concerns content. When she's not writing content for KompleteCare, you might find her copy-editing works for authors before publication.

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