The stages of infection and symptoms of HIV

People who live with HIV have different symptoms in the first and last stages of infection. Normally the symptoms are the same in men and women.

There are four stages of the HIV infection. The symptoms vary in type and severity from person to person.

Stage 1: Acute Primary Infection

This stage begins one to four weeks after acquiring HIV, some people have symptoms that may feel like the flu, sometimes these symptoms do not last more than one or two weeks. Experiencing these symptoms is not a reliable way to diagnose HIV. Symptoms may include:

  • Fever (elevated temperature

  • Body rash

  • Sore throat

  • Inflamed glands

  • Headache

  • Stomach ache

  • Pains and discomfort in the joints

  • Muscle pain

Stage 2: The asymptomatic stage

Once a person has gone through the acute primary infection stage, they may begin to feel better. In fact, HIV may not cause any other symptoms for 10 or even 15 years (depending on age, background and general health). However, the virus will remain active, infecting new cells and making copies of itself.

Stage 3: Symptomatic HIV infection

In this stage the immune system is severely damaged, causing serious infections or bacterial and fungal diseases that the body can not fight. These infections are known as "opportunistic infections" or associated diseases. Symptoms may include:

  • Weight Loss

  • Chronic diarrhea

  • Night sweats

  • Fever

  • Persistent cough

  • Problems of the mouth and skin

  • Regular infections

Stage 4: AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)

AIDS is the final and most severe phase of HIV infection. If antiretroviral treatment is not followed, over time, the virus will weaken the immune system of your body and progress to AIDS, leading to death. Symptoms of AIDS include:

  • Cold sores

  • Sore throat

  • Severe fungal infections

  • Chronic inflammatory pelvic disease

  • Recurrent serious infections

  • Persistent tiredness, dizziness and lightheadedness

  • Headaches

  • Weight Loss

  • Diarrhea, fever, or night sweats for a long time

  • Inflamed glands

  • Episodes of dry and deep cough

  • Feeling short of breath

  • Violaceous bumps on the skin or in the mouth

  • Bleeding from the mouth, nose, anus, or vagina

  • Skin rashes

Sources: (Mayo, 2017). Síntomas del VIH. Recuperado de