Acute HIV

Acute HIV is the first stage of HIV infection. Levels of HIV are typically highest in the body in the first few weeks after infection occurs. In this time frame typical antibody tests can’t detect HIV.

  • It can take a few weeks for your body to produce antibodies in response to HIV. The first few weeks after HIV is transmitted is when viral load is highest — meaning there are lots of copies of the virus in the body.
  • During this time, the chances of transmitting HIV to sexual partners are higher than at other stages of HIV infection.
  • HIV antibody tests often do not detect HIV during the acute infection period, about three weeks.
  • Flu-like symptoms and other symptoms may occur during this time, though not everyone experiences them. Check out the list of these symptoms below.

Wondering if you have HIV? The only way to know your status for sure is to get tested, but there are a few symptoms that may appear in the few weeks after HIV transmission, which is called “seroconversion illness.”

HIV doesn’t always show any symptoms right away. However, if you think you may have been exposed to HIV and you’re feeling any of these symptoms, it’s best to go get tested right away and do it again in three months.

In some cases, early Symptoms of HIV include:

  • Fever and flu-like symptoms
  • Swollen glands in your armpits, groin and neck
  • Feeling tired all of the time
  • Sore muscles and joints
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Rashes on your torso
  • Night sweats
  • Mouth ulcers

Many of these symptoms can be caused by other diseases or illnesses, so having them doesn’t necessarily mean you have been infected with HIV. Getting tested is the only way to determine your HIV status.