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Early Signs of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) to Watch Out For

Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, MD · Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Jun 23, 2022

Early Signs of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) to Watch Out For

Here in the Philippines, the prevalence of HIV is low when compared with other countries. However, we do have one of the fastest rates of infection worldwide, which is very alarming information. Knowing the early signs of HIV can help patients take the necessary precautions and seek treatment to avoid infecting others.

5 Early signs of HIV

Back when HIV was first discovered, it was usually thought of as a “death sentence” since there was no effective form of treatment at the time. The life expectancy for persons with HIV was pretty low, and prognosis for AIDS was much worse.

But these days, modern medicine has advanced to the point that persons with HIV could live healthy, normal lives. The current HIV medications could make the viral load drop to an undetectable level after months of treatment. This means that while the patient is still HIV-positive, they can’t infect others and they are effectively controlling the virus through the medications.

However, one of the important things to remember is that early detection and treatment are crucial for HIV. Hence, it is important for people to know the early signs of HIV to take action as soon as possible.

Here are some of the early signs of HIV to watch out for:


Sudden and unexplainable fatigue could be experienced by patients. The first symptoms may start about 2 weeks or a month after infection1.

A person with HIV might suddenly feel tired all the time, even if they’ve gotten enough rest. They might also notice inability to explain their sudden tiredness or fatigue, despite feeling healthy and perfectly normal.

However, this isn’t a definite sign of HIV since a lot of other conditions could cause fatigue. Although it is also a good idea not to ignore any unexplained fatigue when experienced.


Another possible early symptom of HIV is diarrhea. This happens due to an overgrowth of bacteria in the intestine in persons with HIV.

However, like fatigue, this symptom isn’t a definite sign of an HIV infection. There are many causes of diarrhea, ranging anywhere from medication side effects to improper food handling.

Swollen lymph nodes

This happens when the infection reaches a person’s lymph nodes, causing these to swell.

Swollen lymph nodes are a sign that your body is fighting off an infection. This symptom could appear as early as a few days or weeks after infection. However, there are cases in which the disease only manifests later on when it has already progressed further.

Sudden weight loss

This usually means that there might be something wrong with the body. This is also the case for patients who have HIV.

Sudden weight loss could happen if a person has another infection aside from HIV, also known as an opportunistic infection. This happens as HIV weakens the immune system, allowing other pathogens to infect the body.


Another early sign of HIV is fever, especially when it reoccurs. A fever is a natural response of the body and happens because it is trying to fight against the virus.

A fever could keep recurring as the virus manifests itself. Additionally, a patient may notice that there’s no apparent explanation for the fever.

Key Takeaways

The early signs of HIV are not definite ways to determine if a patient is infected or not. However, if a patient experiences any of the symptoms above and has recently participated in any form of unprotected sex, it might be a good idea to get tested as soon as possible.

In general, it would be best to avoid HIV by practicing safe sex, being sure to use protection (e.g. condoms) during any sexual encounter. This includes both penetrative and oral sex, regardless of each partner’s sexual orientation.

Learn more about HIV/AIDs here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mary Rani Cadiz, MD

Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Jun 23, 2022

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