AIDS Home > More Signs of HIV and Possible Complications
Many people do not develop any symptoms when they first become infected with HIV. Some people, however, have a flu-like illness within a month or two after exposure to the virus. More persistent or severe symptoms may not surface for a decade or more after HIV first enters the body in adults, or within two years in children born with HIV infection. This period of "asymptomatic" (without symptoms) infection varies from person to person. During the asymptomatic period, however, the virus is actively multiplying, infecting, and killing cells of the immune system, and people are highly infectious -- meaning they can transmit the virus to others.
(Click HIV Symptoms for a more detailed list of possible symptoms.)
As the immune system deteriorates, a variety of complications start to take over. For many people, the first sign of infection is large lymph nodes or "swollen glands" that may be enlarged for more than three months. Other symptoms often experienced months to years before the onset of AIDS include:
- Lack of energy
- Weight loss
- Frequent fevers and sweats
- Persistent or frequent yeast infections (oral or vaginal)
- Persistent skin rashes or flaky skin
- Pelvic inflammatory disease, in women, that does not respond to treatment
- Short-term memory loss.
Many people are so debilitated by the symptoms of AIDS that they cannot hold steady employment or do household chores. Other people with AIDS may experience phases of intense, life-threatening illness followed by phases in which they function normally.