According to Amanda Gardner for Health magazine, the only way to determine if a person is HIV-positive is to get tested at home or by a professional. People who contract HIV after risky sexual intercourse may experience flu-like symptoms within one to two months. However, many adults with HIV do not present symptoms for years.
Gardner notes that common symptoms of HIV within the first several months include a fever that can reach up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit and severe fatigue or lethargy. The fatigue can occur in the beginning or late stages of HIV. Achy joints, swollen lymph nodes and a sore throat are also linked to HIV while the immune system is fighting the infection. Headaches, an itchy skin rash, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting are commonly reported symptoms in people with HIV.
A person with advanced, undiagnosed HIV may present with wasting. Wasting is defined as losing at least 10 percent body weight. Most antiretroviral therapy medications prevent this symptom from occurring. A dry cough that persists for months without response to medication may indicate an HIV infection. Gardner explains that roughly half of people infected with HIV suffer from night sweats in the early stages of the infection. Thrush is another common sign of HIV in its later stages.