When someone who is HIV negative becomes infected with HIV, this is called seroconversion. After a person becomes infected with HIV, the amount of virus in the body grows rapidly. Because of this, up to 90% of newly infected people may experience flu-like symptoms and possibly a rash beginning one to four weeks after they were infected with HIV. These symptoms may include:
- sore throat
- muscle pain
- swollen lymph nodes
If you had an HIV high risk activity (for example, unprotected anal sex with a person of HIV positive or unknown status) and then noticed the above symptoms within a few weeks, they may be the signs of an early HIV infection and you should get tested right away. However, it is possible that HIV may not be detected in your blood right away, sometimes it takes three months. So, if your first test is negative, you’ll need to have a second test after the three month period (this is known as the HIV “window period”). Either way, it is best to be tested within a few weeks of an HIV risk activity and if you have symptoms.
During early HIV infection, because the virus is reproducing so rapidly, it is easier for a person to transmit HIV to others.
For more information call the AIDS and Sexual Health InfoLine at 1-800-668-2437 (English and multilingual line) or 1-800-267-7432 (French line) or check out the Resources section of this site.