HIV is a virus that affects the immune system, specifically the CD4 cells. The CD4 cells help protect the body from illness. Unlike other viruses that the immune system can fight off, HIV can’t be eliminated by the immune system.
The symptoms of HIV can vary greatly from person to person. No two men with HIV will likely experience the exact same symptoms. However, HIV in men will generally follow this pattern.
Approximately 80 percent of people who contract HIV experience flu-like symptoms within two to four weeks. This flu-like illness is known as acute HIV infection. It’s the primary stage of HIV and lasts until the body has created antibodies against the virus.
Symptoms typically last one to two weeks. Anyone who has these symptoms and thinks they may have contracted HIV should schedule an appointment with their healthcare provider to get tested.
After the initial symptoms disappear, HIV may not cause any other symptoms for months or years. During this time, the virus replicates and begins to weaken the immune system. A person at this stage won’t feel or look sick, but the virus is still active. They can easily transmit the virus to others. This is why early testing, even for those who feel fine, is so important.