One of the most common consultations I have is when people have recently had a potential exposure to HIV and they are worried they may have the symptoms of AIDS. Aids.gov has a great summary:
What are the symptoms of AIDS
Within 2-4 weeks after HIV infection, many, but not all, people experience flu-like symptoms, often described as the “worst flu ever.” This is called “acute retroviral syndrome” (ARS) or “primary HIV infection,” and it’s the body’s natural response to the HIV infection.
Symptoms can include:
- Fever (this is the most common symptom)
- Swollen glands
- Sore throat
- Muscle and joint aches and pains
These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. However, you should not assume you have HIV if you have any of these symptoms. Each of these symptoms can be caused by other illnesses. Conversely, not everyone who is infected with HIV develops ARS. Many people who are infected with HIV do not have any symptoms at all for 10 years or more.You cannot rely on symptoms to know whether you have HIV. The only way to know for sure if you are infected with HIV is to get tested.
What is important to note is that all of the above symptoms can also happen with other diseases such as the common flu, glandular fever and other viral illnesses.
For this reason it’s vital to see a doctor for a review of your symptoms, examination and testing if required.
Remember in the most likely scenario if you have not had a significant exposure to HIV these symptoms are most likely coming from something other than HIV.
In cases like these having a rapid HIV test can help reduce worry and reassure you that you are not suffering from the symptoms of AIDS
Dr George Forgan-Smith