Symptoms of HIV and AIDS

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

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Although AIDS can develop after HIV infection, the symptoms are different.

Symptoms of HIV infection

Some people may not develop any symptoms immediately after being infected with HIV. You may develop mild flu-like symptoms 2 to 4 weeks after becoming infected with HIV. Common early symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • fatigue
  • chills
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • joint pain
  • swollen glands (lymph nodes)

The symptoms of HIV infection may last from several days to weeks and may go  away on their own. During the first 2 to 4 weeks of HIV infection, some tests may not be able to detect the virus; however, people who are HIV-positive can still pass the virus to others during this time.
Some people may have HIV and not know it because they may not experience any symptoms for up to 10 years.

Symptoms of AIDS

Without treatment, infection with HIV can progress to AIDS. Starting treatment early for HIV can help you live a near-normal lifespan.
Symptoms of AIDS include certain types of the following conditions:

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

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 HIV, it is important that others you have had close or intimate contact with are notified, such as:

  • your past and current sex partner(s)
  • people you have shared drug use equipment with, such as:
    • needles
    • syringes
    • other equipment (works) to inject drugs

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.

Getting support

HIV organizations can provide information and counselling and connect you with other services in your area. To find an HIV organization in your area visit HIV411.ca

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