3. Achy Muscles & Joint Pain
ARS is often mistaken for the flu, mononucleosis, or another viral infection, even syphilis or hepatitis. That’s not surprising: Many of the symptoms are the same, including pain in the joints and muscles and swollen lymph glands. Lymph nodes are part of your body’s immune system and tend to get inflamed when there’s an infection. Many of them are located in your armpit, groin, and neck.
4. Sore Throat & 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.
5. Skin Rashes
Skin rashes can occur early or late in the course of HIV/AIDS. For Ron, this was another sign that he might not have run-of-the-mill allergies or a cold. ”They were like boils, with some itchy pink areas on my arms,” Ron says. The rashes can also appear on the trunk of the body. “If [the rashes] aren’t easily explained or easily treated, you should think about having an HIV test,” Dr. Horberg says.
6. Nausea, Vomiting & Diarrhea
Anywhere from 30% to 60% of people have short-term nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea in the early stages of HIV, Dr. Malvestutto says. These symptoms can also appear as a result of antiretroviral therapy and later in the infection, usually as the result of an opportunistic infection. ”Diarrhea that is unremitting and not responding at all to usual therapy might be an indication,” Dr. Horberg says. Or symptoms may be caused by an organism not usually seen in people with healthy immune systems, he adds.