Symptoms of HIV and AIDS

Learn about the symptoms of being human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive. Also find out the symptoms of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and what to do if you become ill.

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What are the symptoms of being HIV-positive and AIDS?

Although AIDS can develop after you have been infected with HIV, the symptoms are different.


You may develop mild flu-like symptoms 2 to 4 weeks after becoming infected with HIV. Common early symptoms include:

  • fever
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • joint pain
  • swollen glands (lymph nodes)

The symptoms of HIV infection will go away on their own. You may be HIV-positive and not know it because you may not experience any more symptoms for 5 to 10 years.


AIDS will eventually develop if you do not seek treatment for HIV infection. Starting treatment early for HIV can help you live a near-normal lifespan.

Symptoms of AIDS include:

  • pneumonia (a lung infection)
  • cancerous tumours on the skin
  • fungal infections, such as yeast infections
  • viral infections, such as shingles
  • long-term diarrhea
  • unexplained weight loss

What do you do if you become ill?

If you think you may have the symptoms of HIV or AIDS, see a health care provider to get:

  • tested
  • counselled
  • treated

If you have been infected, it is important that others you have had close contact with are notified, such as:

  • your past and current sex partners
  • people you have shared drug paraphernalia with, such as:
    • needles
    • syringes
    • cookers
    • spoons
    • water
    • filters

Telling your sex partner(s)

If you are uncomfortable telling a sex partner that you have HIV, ask your health care provider for help. He or she can:

  • notify your past sex partner(s) without revealing your identity
  • give you support and information on how to tell your past and current sex partner(s)

In Canada, the law may require you to tell your sex partner(s) you have HIV before you have sex.

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