NOTE: The following is a brief summary of early/late HIV symptoms. Not everybody infected with HIV will show one or more of the following symptoms. Many people who are infected with HIV do not have any symptoms at all for 10 years or more. HIV Symptoms alone are not a reliable sign in order to determine HIV infection. The only reliable and certain way to find out about HIV infection is HIV testing. Individuals who have recently been exposed to HIV—e.g. by oral, vaginal or anal sex without a condom with a known HIV positive person or a partner whose HIV status is not known or shared needles to inject drugs—should request to be tested for HIV.
Important: an infected individual, with or without HIV symptoms, is at particularly high risk of transmitting HIV to sexual or drug using partners during the early stages of HIV infection because of the very high levels of HIV in the affected individual’s blood stream- it is very important to take proper steps in order to reduce risk of transmission. During the early stages of HIV infection the body is not yet producing HIV antibodies used by HIV tests in order to detect HIV infections. In 2013, a new HIV test was approved that can detect the presence of HIV in human body during the early stage of infection. It is very important to inform the health care provider about a recent HIV infection and to be tested for acute HIV.
Once the HIV virus has entered a human body, it starts to invade immune cells, continues to replicate (multiply), destroy the cells, and invade further cells with even more numbers of the virus- the result is a gradual decrease in the immune system potency: immune deficiency.
The early HIV symptoms are depending on the infected individual: age, health status, and other factors will mostly affect how soon or late HIV starts to show its symptoms. Stage of the disease is another determining factor of symptom development.