In many cases, HIV does not cause major symptoms for many years. It may then start to cause some illnesses or symptoms, or may not show symptoms before it progresses to AIDS. Some patients encounter flu-like symptoms within 2 - 6 weeks of infection, during a stage called “seroconversion”. These symptoms can be very severe and they can be mistaken for a particularly bad case of the flu. They can include fever, swollen glands, a sore throat, muscle and joint aches as well as fatigue and headache. These symptoms occur as the body’s immune system tries to fight the virus.
In some cases, HIV also causes an itchy skin rash, which consists of small red bumps. It most commonly occurs on the face, chest, feet and hands.