Early stages of HIV infection involve flu-like symptoms followed by a latency period with little or no symptoms then a late stage with severe symptoms. Men and women show similar symptoms with the exception of vaginal infections and menstrual cycle changes in women, says the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The flu-like symptoms characteristic of the early stage of HIV include fever, swollen glands, sore throat, rash and fatigue. Early symptoms usually appear within two to four weeks after virus transmission. After flu-like symptoms have passed, the virus goes into a latency period where it reproduces very slowly and little or no symptoms of illness are experienced. It can take up to 10 years for the HIV virus to reach a late stage that shows symptoms. Indicators of the late stage of HIV infection include rapid weight loss, recurring fever, extreme tiredness and prolonged swelling of lymph glands, states AIDS.gov.
Symptoms of HIV/AIDS should not be used as an indicator of infection. A person who has engaged in behavior that risks HIV infection should get tested. Tests detect the presence of HIV antibodies in the bloodstream. Improvements in testing technology are making it possible to detect the presence of HIV during the early stages of infection, according the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.