Q and A

Question

What is seroconversion and what are the symptoms?

Answer

HIV seroconversion is the time in which a person first develops antibodies for HIV. They will not yet test positive on an HIV antibody test.

The word just means that your sero status is converting from being HIV antibody negative to HIV antibody positive.

Seroconversion usually occurs about 10 days after infection, and for mostĀ people it starts 1-3 weeks after infection.

About 80% of people get symptoms but 20% do not.

Symptoms

The symptoms of HIV seroconversion resemble those of a heavy cold or flu.

They commonly involve multiple symptoms that all occur at the same time. The commonly last about a week and then resolve. If you get this heavy response and recently had a risk, it is more important to contact a doctor or clinic that can decide your level of risk.

Stress and anxiety can produce similar general symptoms even though they have not caught HIV. This includes tiredness from not sleeping, anxiety and worry.

The most common HIV seroconversion symptoms include a combination of several of the following:

  • fatigue (tiredness)
  • fever (high temperature)
  • sore throat
  • rash
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
  • aching muscles and joints
  • swollen lymph glands

Seroconversion involves several symptoms that all start at the same time. Only having one or two of these symptoms is unlikely to be HIV.

These 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 the symptoms listed above, on their own, are an indication of 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 considered an indication that you have been infected.

The only way to know if you are HIV positive is by takingĀ an HIV test. More information on tests is at this link.

If you have recently been exposed to HIV, or think you may have been exposed to HIV, then contact a doctor or sexual health clinic to talk about whether testing for HIV is appropriate.

This answer was updated in 2015 from an earlier question in 2008.


Information on this website is provided by treatment advocates and offered as a guide only. Decisions about your treatment should always be taken in consultation with your doctor.

79 comments

  1. Jack_488

    Hi, I had a high risk exposure with a csw. It was a protected course, but during the course my condom slipped not exposing my bare part. After the act, she removed the condom and applied a lotion around my exposed penile part. If that CSW is positive, does her vaginal fluids exposed on my penis can come in contact with my bare part as she had applied the lotion.? I got tested twice with p24 duo combo at 4 n 9 weeks. It is negative. After 9th week, I experienced few tiny rash on my arms. I am worried that it could be ARS symptoms. ? Or should I consider myself conclusive that its HIV negative. Please help and reply. Please I am very stressed.

  2. RC

    My son had mouth ulcers, lymph nodes, low fever.
    Because of these symptoms we went to test for HIV. He was CIA rapid test reactive but confirmatory negative. Do we still have to worry?

  3. Mr x

    Hi,
    I had unprotected oral sex (I’m the male done on me by a female) it was an escort and it was my first time with an escort, now I’m very worried but I read that I shouldn’t be. I was tested after 2 or 3 weeks and it came out negative. However 4 days after the test I start feeling nausea and some sort of diarrhea Two days after my body start aching a little not too sure what to make out .of it. Any advice please.

  4. TB

    I’m currently seroconverting after deliberately getting HIV from a guy. The last exposure was just over 2 weeks ago and a few days after that I started to get these symptoms which are hitting me hard..
    Tiredness and slow/no energy or drive to do anything. Need to sleep all the time.
    Pain in lower legs, aches in lower body that can be severe at times
    Feeling sick and often having diarrhea after eating anything
    Complete loss of appetite (maybe related to above?)
    Eyes sometimes ache
    Sometimes sore throat that comes and goes
    Mouth ulcers

    Worst is the lower body aches in my legs and feet joints.

    When will these symptoms pass and will I go to the latency (or whatever it’s called) phase?

  5. Lisa Thorley

    Hi TB,

    Has it been confirmed that you’re HIV positive?

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