Did I Just Contract HIV? Signs of Primary HIV Infection


Hi, my name is [PRESENTER NAME]. I’m [PRESENTER ROLE]. Welcome to “Did I Just Contract HIV? Signs of Primary HIV Infection.”


Did you know that it’s sometimes possible to recognize when you’ve recently been infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, by recognizing signs such as fever, rash, or night sweats? This video will teach you how to recognize signs of primary HIV infection that are experienced by between four and nine out of every ten people after they are first infected with HIV. If you are experiencing primary HIV infection, seeing a doctor and following their instructions could save your life and the lives of any sexual partners.


Primary HIV infection occurs during the first few weeks or months after a person first becomes infected with HIV. [1] The most common two signs may be having a rash and/or having fevers. The following other signs may occur as well:


Š      feelings of weakness, discomfort, and fatigue

Š      loss of appetite

Š      weight loss

Š      sore throat

Š      sores in the mouth

Š      joint or muscle pain

Š      swollen lymph nodes (lymph nodes are small ball-shaped glands in your neck, underarms, groin, and elsewhere that may get larger when you are sick)

Š      diarrhea

Š      fatigue

Š      night sweats

Š      nausea and vomiting

Š      headache

Š      sores on or near the penis or vagina [2][3]


The signs usually start a few days to a few weeks after the person was exposed to HIV. [4] The signs then usually last from seven to ten days, and rarely more than two weeks. [5]


If you have one or more of these signs, does it necessarily mean you are infected with HIV? No. Many common diseases can cause one or more of these signs. For example, most people with a fever or sore throat are probably just experiencing common illnesses such as the cold or influenza. So don’t panic. But if you have any of these signs and think there’s even the slightest chance you might have been exposed to HIV (such as by having sex or sharing a needle recently, even with someone who you believe is HIV negative), you should see a doctor and ask to be tested for HIV.


If you have none of these signs, does it prove you’re not infected with HIV? No. Between one and six out of every ten people who become infected with HIV never show the signs of primary HIV infection. So don’t assume you’re HIV negative just because you’ve never experienced signs of primary HIV infection.


When you go to the doctor with any of these signs, it’s very important to mention any risk factors you may have for HIV so they will test you. If you have ever had unprotected sex (even once), have used injection drugs, or think you might be experiencing primary HIV infection, make sure to tell your doctor.


By getting tested promptly for HIV, you’re also doing your part to help reduce its spread. People who become infected with HIV are most likely to infect others during primary HIV infection. During this time, the amount of HIV in their blood and semen or vaginal fluid is the highest, and they are most likely to infect sexual or needle sharing partners. Newly infected people who learn their HIV status promptly can notify their partners and are more likely to take steps to reduce their risk of infecting others.


So protect yourself and those around you. If you haven’t been tested for HIV already, get tested. If you’re sexually active, practice safer sex to reduce your risk. Never share needles. And if you think you may have been exposed to HIV, go to the doctor right away and ask to be tested for HIV. This is [PRESENTER NAME].


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The English original script was reviewed for accuracy and approved by Becky Kuhn, M.D. on March 18, 2009.


© 2006 - 2012 Global Lifeworks. All rights reserved.





Bernard Branson, et al. "Revised Recommendations for HIV Testing of Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women in Health-Care Settings." MMWR Recommendations and Reports, 22 Sept 06, 55(RR14); 1-17.



Center for AIDS, “Primary HIV Infection,” April 2004.



Marcus Altfeld and Bruce D. Walker, “Acute HIV-1 Infection,” HIV Medicine, 14th Ed., 2006.


End notes:


[1] Center for AIDS, “Primary HIV Infection,” April 2004. http://www.thebody.com/content/treat/art16795.html

[2] Center for AIDS, 2004.

[3] Marcus Altfeld and Bruce D. Walker, “Acute HIV-1 Infection,” HIV Medicine, 14th Ed., 2006. http://www.hivmedicine.com/textbook/acuteinf.htm

[4] Altfeld and Walker, 2006.

[5] Altfeld and Walker, 2006.


Instructions to translators:

Š      Do not translate the footnote indicators [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]. Leave them in place as-is.

Š      For this translation, consider “signs of HIV infection” and “symptoms of HIV infection” to be synonyms meaning “indications that you have a disease.” Please translate “signs of HIV infection” or “symptoms of HIV infection” into your own language using whatever term will be easiest for viewers to understand.