Most of the signs and symptoms of an HIV infection are the same for both men and women. However, a few symptoms are specific to men.
Symptoms specific to men
- Low sex drive: This is a sign of hypogonadism, caused by a lack of the sex hormone testosterone and tied to HIV. Hypogonadism may also cause:
- Sores on the penis: A common sign of HIV is painful, open sores or ulcers in the mouth and esophagus. In men, these sores may also appear on the anus or penis and can be recurring.
- Dysuria (pain or burning during urination): This might be a symptom of a sexually transmitted disease or inflammation of the prostate gland (prostatitis). It is sometimes caused by bacterial infection. Other symptoms of prostatitis include:
If you experience these symptoms and think you may have HIV, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible to get tested.
Symptoms specific to women
Symptoms of HIV that are more severe in women include:
What are general signs of HIV?
Early stage symptoms
Early signs of stage I HIV infection that are common to both men and women include:
- Swollen lymph nodes (one of the earliest signs)
- Sore throat
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Rash on the skin (trunk, face, limbs)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mouth ulcers
- Genital ulcers
- Night sweats
- Weakness and fatigue
These symptoms may occur 2-6 weeks after exposure to the virus and may gradually resolve over a few weeks.
In the subsequent stages, the above symptoms may recur and become more severe. Stage III HIV may also cause the following symptoms:
- High fevers
- Weight loss
- Changes in the fingernails or toenails
- Genital and oral herpes
- Breathing issues
- Chronic cough that persists for a long time
- Diseases and infections associated with a suppressed immune system (for example, fungal infections, pneumonia)
- Mental changes, such as memory loss and confusion
What are signs that HIV has progressed to AIDS?
If you have an HIV infection, it does not necessarily mean that you have acquired AIDS yet. However, when an HIV infection progresses to AIDS, the virus severely damages your immune system. At this stage, your body struggles to fight infections. This can lead to signs such as:
- Extreme and unexplained fatigue
- Extreme weight loss
- Fever and night sweats
- Lymph glands swelling
- Chronic diarrhea
- Infections and rashes in or on the mouth, anus or genitals
- Recurrent pneumonia
- Chronic cough and shortness of breath
- Memory loss
- Red, brown, pink or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose or eyelids
Davis CP. 21 Early Signs and Stages of HIV. MedicineNet. https://www.medicinenet.com/hiv-aids/symptoms
HIV.gov. How Can You Tell If You Have HIV? hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/about-hiv-and-aids/symptoms-of-hiv
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