Primary HIV infection

A few days or weeks after infection, there are often flu-like symptoms. This phase is called primary infection.

During the primary infection phase, you are highly contagious – even if you don’t experience any symptoms.

The informational video provides further information about the primary HIV infection phase:

Safer Sex Check

HIV symptoms during the primary infection phase

The severity of the primary infection varies from one person to another, and it’s possible not to experience any symptoms at all.

The following symptoms may appear individually or in combination during the primary infection phase:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Severely swollen lymph nodes on the neck and elsewhere
  • Sore throat
  • Skin rash

Less common:

  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting
  • Mucous membrane damage in the mouth or on the genitals

The symptoms usually last between three and ten days, sometimes longer. But the infectiousness remains high even after the symptoms subside.

Symptoms of a primary infection: Now what?

A significant number of HIV transmissions occur during the primary infection phase. Many of those affected aren’t yet aware that they are HIV positive, even though they’re highly contagious. This is due to the fact that right after infection, the viral load in the blood and semen increases rapidly before stabilising at a lower level.

NOTE: Not everyone who’s infected with HIV experiences symptoms. If you have any questions, talk to your doctor or a counselling centre.