Symptoms and seroconversion
Q: What is seroconversion?
A: Seroconversion is the period when immune responses to HIV start to develop thoughout the body.
This is usually 1-3 weeks after infection.
During this time up to 80% of people have symptoms. These symptoms can last for a few days or a few weeks.
Q: What are symptoms of seroconversion?
A: Seroconversion symptoms are often described as like a heavy flu.
They can also be similar to symptoms of other sexually transmitted diseases. Stress and anxiety can also produce symptoms even when there is no HIV.
The most common symptoms of seroconversion include:
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Sore throat
- Loss of appetite
- Aching muscles and joints, and
- Swollen lymph glands.
Having only one or two symptoms is very unlikely to be HIV.
Symptoms are not a reliable way of diagnosing HIV infection.
Firstly, 20% of people who become infected with HIV have no symptoms.
Secondly, none of these symptoms, on their own, are an indication that you have HIV. However, if you get several of these symptoms at the same time AND you have had a recent risk of exposure to HIV, then this MAY be related to HIV.
The only way to know is to test.
This involves waiting four weeks for a valid result. It also involves taking a second test after 3 months (see page 34–35).
If you are worried about HIV, contact a doctor or sexual health clinic.
If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, you can talk about whether testing is appropriate.
The clinic will be able to go through your risk in the detail that is needed.
The ‘Health services near you’ section of the NHS website includes a sexual health menu to search for clinics by town or postcode.
Last updated: 1 June 2016.