Acute HIV infection - Symptom
Primary HIV infection; HIV seroconversion syndrome; Acute retroviral syndrome; HIV infection - acute
Note: At the time of diagnosis with HIV, many people have not experienced any symptoms.
Acute HIV infection can appear like infectious mononucleosis, flu, or other viral illnesses. If symptoms occur, they are usually seen 1 - 4 weeks after becoming infected.
Any of the following symptoms can occur:
- Decreased appetite
- Muscle stiffness or aching
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph glands
- Ulcers of the mouth and esophagus
These symptoms can last from a few days to 4 weeks, and then subside.
Signs and tests:
HIV ELISA/Western blot test is usually negative or undetermined during the acute infection and will become positive over the next 3 months.
HIV RNA test ("viral load") is positive in patients with acute HIV infection.
Lower-than-normal CD4 (white blood cell) count may be a sign of a suppressed immune system. The CD4 count usually improves 1 - 2 months after acute infection.
White blood cell differential may show abnormalities.
- Reviewed last on: 12/1/2009
- David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Masur H, Healey L, Hadigan C. Treatment of human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 412.
Sax PE, Walker BD. Immunopathogenesis of human immunodeficiency infection. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 408.
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