An HIV test is the only way to tell for sure if you’re infected
Within a month or two of being infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, 40 percent to 90 percent of people feel like they’re coming down with the flu. This is known as acute retroviral syndrome (ARS). But the early stages of HIV infection often don’t have any symptoms.
And since one in five people with HIV doesn’t know he or she has it, the only way to know for sure if you’re infected is to get tested.
Still, here are 10 signs you could be HIV-positive.
An early sign of ARS is a mild fever accompanied by other flu-like symptoms: sore throat, swollen lymph glands, fatigue.
Itchy rashes on your arms or the trunk of your body that can’t be explained by an allergic reaction to your new detergent could be another early sign of HIV.
A dry cough—one that gets worse despite treatment with allergy medicine, antibiotics or inhalers—is typical in HIV patients.
Roughly 30 percent to 60 percent of people newly infected with HIV experience short-term nausea, vomiting or diarrhea (especially diarrhea that doesn’t respond to usual therapy).
Night sweats—similar to hot flashes that come with menopause—happen to about 50 percent of people with the early stages of HIV infection. They can happen even if the room is relatively cool and typically soak your pajamas and the sheets.
Herpes—both oral and genital—can be a sign of ARS. If you already have herpes, HIV infection can make outbreaks more severe because of your weakened immune system.
HIV infection has been associated with early menopause—at age 47 compared to age 51 for uninfected women. Late-stage infection can also lead to menstrual irregularities.
Have you noticed changes—splitting, curving, thickening, discoloration—in your nails? This is another sign of HIV infection, often caused by a fungal infection, and typically occurs late in the infection.
Confusion, memory problems or difficulty concentrating could be a sign of HIV-related dementia. Motor skills, such as lack of coordination or writing, could also begin to suffer.
Weight loss, no matter how much you eat, is a sign of more advanced illness and is most likely due, in part, to severe diarrhea. Once very common in late-stage HIV-positive people, doctors are seeing less of infection-related weight loss thanks to antiretroviral therapy.