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What are the early signs of the HIV virus?

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Quick Answer

The most common early sign of HIV infection is fever, according to AIDS.gov, while other signs include swollen glands, rash, sore throat and fatigue. Muscle and joint pains and headache are also symptoms of HIV. Most people experience these flu-like symptoms within two to four weeks of initial infection.

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Full Answer

These symptoms, when present in an HIV-infected person, are classified as acute retroviral syndrome, or ARS. ARS is the body’s response to the invasion of HIV. The symptoms of HIV infection can last for a few days or even for a few weeks, but these symptoms are not necessarily an indication that HIV is present, since they mimic the flu, notes AIDS.gov. During the ARS stage, those infected have the greatest potential for transmitting the virus to others, since HIV is at its highest level in the blood during initial infection.

Symptoms alone are not a reliable determinant of HIV infection, warns AIDS.gov. Some people have no symptoms at all. Others may not experience symptoms for up to a decade after infection. The only sure way to determine if HIV is present is to be tested. An individual who has had vaginal, oral or anal sex or an individual who shares needles for injectable drugs with someone of unknown HIV status or who is HIV positive should be tested. New-generation HIV tests can pick the virus up in its earliest stages.

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