11 Signs You May Have HIV

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One in five people in the with HIV doesn’t know they have it, which is why it’s so important to get tested, especially if you have unprotected sex with more than one partner or use intravenous drugs.

Within a month or two of HIV entering the body, 40% to 90% of people experience flulike symptoms known as acute retroviral syndrome (ARS). But sometimes HIV symptoms don’t appear for years—sometimes even a decade—after infection.

Here are 12 signs that you may be HIV-positive.

1.Cold sores or genital herpes

Cold sores (oral herpes) and genital herpes can be a sign of both ARS and late-stage HIV infection.

And having herpes can also be a risk factor for contracting HIV. This is because genital herpes can cause ulcers that make it easier for HIV to enter the body during sex. And people who have HIV tend to have more severe herpes outbreaks more often because HIV weakens the immune system.

2. Sore throat and headache

As with other symptoms, sore throat and headache can often be recognized as ARS only in context, Dr. Horberg says.

If you’ve engaged recently in high-risk behavior, an HIV test is a good idea. Get tested for your own sake and for others: HIV is most infectious in the earliest stage.

Keep in mind that the body hasn’t produced antibodies to HIV yet so an antibody test may not pick it up. (It can take a few weeks to a few monthsfor HIV antibodies to show in a blood test). Investigate other test options such as one that detects viral RNA, typically within nine days of infection.

3. Fatigue

The inflammatory response generated by your besieged immune system also can cause you to feel tired and lethargic. Fatigue can be both an early and later sign of HIV.