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   Symptoms of HIV in cisgender men and others assigned male at birth (AMAB) can vary greatly. They may include symptoms of illness such as fever, cough, vomiting, or swollen lymph nodes. These may be mild or severe, depending on the stage of the disease.


The information about HIV below can be useful for people across the gender spectrum. Read on for a complete breakdown of the most common early signs and symptoms of HIV. Plus, information about HIV testing and prevention.

HIV — short for human immunodeficiency virus — is a virus that affects the immune system — more specifically, white blood cells known as CD4 cells, or T-cells, that are part of the immune system.

Because HIV attacks the immune system itself, the immune system is not able to mount a defensive response against this virus the way it can for other viruses. It also means that a person with (untreated) HIV is more susceptible to other infections, illnesses, and diseases.

HIV can be transmitted from person to person through contact with blood, semen, or vaginal fluids that contain the virus.

“It is primarily spread through sex, sharing needles, blood transfusion, and mother to baby during delivery,” 

HIV VS. AIDSHIV is not synonymous with AIDS. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), also known as stage 3 HIV. It’s a late stage of HIV when the immune system cells have been so badly damaged that the body is no longer able to fight off infection.

Thanks to modern medicine, with proper treatment, it’s incredibly uncommon for HIV to progress to AIDS. (More on this below).

These are the 27 Early Signs And Symptoms Of Hiv In Men 


Before we do a more in-depth discussion about the symptoms of HIV, it’s important to understand that left untreated HIV can progress through the following three stages, each of which has a group of associated symptoms.

  • Stage 1: acute illness
  • Stage 2: asymptomatic period
  • Stage 3: advanced infection

Below, a complete breakdown of the most common symptoms by stage.




Stage 1 of HIV can be considered the “beginning” stage. It’s the stage a person enters when they first contract the virus, and it lasts until the body has created antibodies against the virus.

Antibodies are basically little bodyguards the immune system creates when exposed to foreign invaders.

Somewhere between 66 and 80 percent of people in stage 1 will experience flu-like symptoms within 2 to 4 weeks of transmission.

According to doctoral-prepared nurse practitioner Emily Rymland, AAHIVS-certified HIV specialist and clinical development manager at Nurx, these flu-like symptoms can include:

  • fever
  • swollen glands
  • fatigue
  • body rash
  • sore throat
  • joint pain
  • diarrhea
  • headaches

SYMPTOMS can also include:

  • ulcers in the mouth
  • sores on the genitals
  • muscle aches
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • night sweats

“The reason HIV causes joint and muscle pain is because the infection causes inflammation in the body,” says Rymland.

When someone has symptoms, their symptoms can last a few days to several weeks, she says. But not everyone who has come into contact with the virus will experience symptoms.

“It’s common for someone to experience no symptoms that would lead them to question whether or not they’d been exposed to HIV,” explains Rymland.

That’s why anyone who has these symptoms or thinks they may have contracted HIV should consider scheduling an appointment with a healthcare professional to get tested.

“You want to know your status as soon as possible, as early treatment is best for preventing future illness or symptoms,” she says.




Also known as the clinical latency stage, this stage of HIV is known for its lack of symptoms.

During this stage, the virus exists — and is multiplying — in the body and is beginning to weaken the immune system. But it isn’t (yet) actively causing symptoms.

A person with HIV at this stage may feel and look totally fine. But they can still easily transmit the virus to others.



It may take years, even decades, but when left untreated HIV may attack and destroy enough CD4 cells that the body can no longer fight off infection and disease. In short: It breaks down the immune system.

Once this happens, HIV will progress to stage 3, often referred to as AIDS.

A person at this stage has a severely damaged immune system, making them more susceptible to something called “opportunistic infections.”

Opportunistic infections are conditions that the body would normally be able to fight off but can be harmful to people who have HIV.

People living with HIV may notice that they frequently develop colds, flu, and fungal infections.

The symptoms someone with stage 3 HIV might experience include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • persistent diarrhea
  • chronic fatigue
  • rapid weight loss
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • recurring fever, chills, and night sweats
  • rashes, sores, or lesions in the mouth or nose, on the genitals, or under the skin
  • prolonged swelling of the lymph nodes in the armpits, groin, or neck
  • memory loss, confusion, or neurological disorders

“When someone’s CD4 count drops below 200, that’s when someone becomes susceptible to opportunistic infections like pneumocystis pneumonia,” says Rymland.

This may all sound pretty scary, but remember that HIV can be managed with medication called antiretroviral therapy. (More on this below



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