Signs & Symptoms
The majority of people who acquire HIV will not immediately be aware they are infected and will not experience any ill health for some time.
However, some may experience a flu like illness shortly after infection that may include a sore throat, headaches, diarrhoea, aches and pains, swollen glands, high temperature and a rash. This is called sero-conversion illness. Whether a person has symptoms or not a person will be able to transmit the virus to others.
HIV will continue to be active and damage the immune system. Early detection of HIV can mean people can make choices around treatment options. Anti-HIV medication aims to keep the amount of virus in the blood to a minimum therefore slowing down any damage to the immune system. The medication also aims to increase the number of CD4 cells which form a major part of the immune systems defence and decrease the amount of HIV virus in the blood.
If you think you have recently been exposed to HIV you may be able to access PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) which is a course of anti-HIV drugs you would take for a month. PEP is available from the Sexual Health Clinic or Accident & Emergency (A&E). It is vital that you seek PEP as soon as possible after exposure and certainly within 72-hours for it to work effectively. Check out the information sheet on our Resources Page (Love and PEP) which you can take with you to the Sexual Health Clinic or A&E.
Full sexual health screening is recommended at least annually or everytime you have a new sexual partner. Sexual Health Clinics offer friendly, non-judgemental professional services and can support you with diagnoses and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STI's) and HIV.