13 Early Symptoms of HIV to Lookout For


When a person contracts the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), symptoms can arise quickly or develop over time. Some men and women start noticing them within days. For others, the symptoms of HIV can take months to start showing. Do you know the signs?

Knowing how the disease tends to manifest in the early stages is important. It allows for early detection and prompt treatment. Treating HIV effectively from early on can slow down and even prevent its progression to AIDS, extending both length and quality of life.

Keep reading for 13 early warning signs of HIV to look out for…



Tiredness is a common symptom of HIV. However, this warning sign is often overlooked as people tend to attribute their seemingly harmless fatigue to their lifestyles and other benign causes.

A lack of energy can have a profoundly negative effect on one’s personal and professional life. It can also indicate a serious underlying health problem. Thus, it should never be ignored.



Research suggests that headaches affect approximately 50 percent of people living with the human immunodeficiency virus. One in four individuals with HIV experiences chronic migraines.

HIV headaches may feel different from your average tension headache, according to medical researchers, and they can be accompanied by symptoms such as impaired vision and light sensitivity.



When your body temperature exceeds 100.4°F or 38°C (98.6°F or 37°C is the norm), it generally indicates that you have a fever and your immune system is responding to an illness or infection.

Most fevers are caused by illnesses that are not serious. In some cases, it can be a symptom of HIV, occurring from a reaction to the disease or infection resulting from lowered immunity.

A Sore Throat

Sore Throat

Many people experience flu-like symptoms within the first few weeks of contracting HIV. It is a natural physical response to the human immunodeficiency virus. One such symptom is a sore throat.

Soreness of the throat commonly occurs with coughing in those with the virus. A severe, dry cough that doesn’t resolve (even with medications) is a typical symptom in very ill HIV sufferers.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

Swollen Lymph Nodes

Swollen lymph nodes are another early symptom of HIV. It can signify that you have contracted the immunodeficiency virus, especially if you have an active sex life and do not practice safe sex.

Lymph nodes, which contain immune cells that help fight infection, can be found in the neck, groin, armpits, and other body areas. They have a diameter of approximately two centimeters.



Nine out of ten people who have HIV experience skin changes at some point during the course of the disease. In some individuals, these changes become apparent as rashes in the early stages.

Rashes related to HIV typically appear as red, flattened skin areas covered with red bumps. These rashes may be itchy and can show up on the face, chest, hands, and feet.

Joint and Muscle Pain

Muscle Pain

If you are experiencing chronic muscle and joint or body pain, it is important to get this evaluated by a medical professional. HIV infection sometimes affects the muscles and joints.

Chronic pain in the joints and muscles may result from the inflammation that HIV causes. Or, it can be a symptom of bacterial or viral infections that infiltrate the body due to low immunity.

Night Sweats

Night Sweats

It is estimated that half of men and women who are HIV-positive experience night sweats. These are repeated episodes of extreme perspiration that occur in the evenings during sleep.

Night sweats will often soak a person’s night clothes and bedding. They usually present as a side effect of HIV-related infections and fever rather than from the human immunodeficiency virus itself.

Mouth Ulcers/Sores

Mouth Sore

Ulcers in the mouth affect about one-third of HIV sufferers, researchers estimate. These lesions tend to be painful recurring sores that make it difficult to eat, drink, and take medications.

Mouth lesions form inside the lips, cheeks, and tongue with HIV because the immune system is compromised. This allows aphthous ulcers and herpes simplex virus sores to develop.

Genital Ulcers

Genital Ulcer

Ulcers and sores from the human immunodeficiency virus don’t just occur inside the mouth; they can also affect the genitals. Genital herpes is a symptom of both early and late-stage HIV.

Genital herpes is common in women with HIV, particularly those with a low CD4 blood cell count. It can cause painful blisters or open sores on or around the vagina and rectum.

Oral Thrush


Individuals with HIV can and commonly do develop oral thrush, a yeast infection that forms inside the mouth or on the tongue. And just like mouth ulcers and sores, it can be painful.

The main symptom of oral thrush is creamy white bumps on the inner cheeks, gums, and tongue, which are known to bleed when scraped. The infection can leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth.



Diarrhea is one of the most common symptoms of HIV. In fact, most men and women with the HI virus experience this symptom. A lot of people experience it repeatedly after contracting the virus.

HIV diarrhea is usually persistent and severe, accompanying gastrointestinal symptoms like abdominal pain and nausea. If you’re experiencing this, visit a doctor for a medical evaluation asap.

Weight Loss

Weight Loss

Weight loss related to HIV is more common when the disease has progressed, or there is a high concentration of the virus in the blood. However, it can be an early warning sign.

In the early stages, HIV weight loss can occur because mouth sores make eating difficult. Nausea, diarrhea, and profuse sweating (night sweats) can also cause rapid weight loss.