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Here are the most common HIV symptoms in men

If you have an active sex life or think you may have been exposed to HIV, it is important that you get tested as soon as possible.

Here are some common symptoms of HIV that may alert you that something is wrong. Many people experience severe flu-like symptoms which is the body’s natural response to the virus and is an indicator that you may have been exposed to something sinister.

Four phases of an HIV infection:

  • Phase 1: acute infection
  • Phase 2: recent infection
  • Phase 3: latent / chronic infection
  • Phase 4: AIDS

Time is of the essence. Getting yourself tested and beginning treatment immediately ensures that you keep your immune system intact as much as possible. Getting treated with HIV medications will also practically eliminate your chances of transmitting your HIV to others.

Phase 1: the acute infection

The acute phase of an HIV infection lasts  two to eight weeks after the initial moment of infection. HIV replicates itself very quickly in your body, even if your body has not even started making antibodies against the virus. Within two weeks your viral load will rise to a million or more virus particles.

  • In this phase you can very easily transmit HIV to your sex partners.
  • Starting two weeks after the moment of infection, you may start noticing symptoms. The symptoms normally start when your viral load rises and your immune system starts trying to fight off the virus.
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Symptoms of an acute HIV infection

A couple of weeks after you have been infected with HIV, the amount of HIV in your body will have increased significantly and your immune system will be activated. You could get flu-like symptoms. Symptoms that typically accompany an acute HIV infection are:

  • fever
  • feeling tired and/or ill
  • swollen lymph nodes (glands)
  • night sweats
  • skin rash without itching
  • continuing diarrhoea
  • muscle ache or pain in your joints
  • sore throat
  • blisters in your mouth or on your genitals

Most people who are infected with HIV will get symptoms in the acute phase. Those are not always recognised as being symptoms of HIV, however and they normally last two weeks, but they could last anywhere from a few days to ten weeks.

Be alert to symptoms of HIV after having had risky sex

If you have run a risk, for example because you didn’t use a condom or because the condom broke, be on the look out for symptoms in the coming weeks. If you have flu-like symptoms or any of the symptoms described above, be aware that it could be HIV and when you visit your doctor or thre clinic, make sure you tell them the following:

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  • that you have symptoms that could point to an infection with HIV
  • how long you have had those symptoms.
  • that you think you recently ran a risk of getting HIV

Phase 2: recent infection

This period follows the acute infection and lasts for about six months after the initial infection.

  • It is in this period that your body begins to produce antibodies against HIV.
  • The amount of virus will level off somewhat.

The flu-like symptoms mentioned earlier could also appear in this period.

Phase 3: latent/chronic HIV infection

The length of this phase varies with each person. With some people it could last a year; with others it could last 15 years. It depends on how aggressive the virus is and how strong your immune system is.

  • In the beginning, your body will manage to keep the virus under its thumb.
  • But then it will lose the battle against HIV.
  • Your immune system will become severely damaged in this period.
  • Normally you won’t have any symptoms or health problems in this phase until the HIV infection has weakened your immune system.

Symptoms of a latent/chronic HIV infection 

The symptoms you get in this phase will often last longer than they do in the acute phase. Symptoms in this phase include:

  • chronic fatigue
  • continuing diarrhoea
  • weight loss or extreme thinness (emaciation)
  • night sweats
  • swollen lymph nodes (glands)
  • fungal infection in your mouth or throat (candida)
  • white spots on the frenulum of your tongue (i.e. the bit of skin that connects the bottom of your tongue to your lower jaw).
  • herpes on your penis or around your anus
  • shingles
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Phase 4: AIDS

  • In this phase, your body will be extremely susceptible to all kinds of diseases that it would normally be able to fight off.
  • If you remain untreated in this phase, HIV will eventually kill you.
  • AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, which means that your immune system collapses.


The diagnosis of “AIDS” is only given if HIV has damaged your immune system to such an extent that you become ill from an infection that your body would normally have been able to fight off.

A wide range of serious medical conditions will present itself. A few examples:

  • inflammation of your esophagus due to candida
  • PCP, a particular form of pneumonia
  • CMV, a particular eye infection
  • tuberculosis (TB)
  • AIDS dementia

When faced with the prospect of AIDS, it will always makes sense to get treated. Thanks to the treatment, “AIDS” is a stage that you never hahve to reach. It will take longer before your immune system gets back to strength, however.


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