Medical Definition of Primary HIV infection

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Primary HIV infection: The first few months after infection with HIV (the human immunodeficiency virus).

During primary HIV infection, seroconversion occurs -- the appearance of detectable antibodies to HIV in the blood. It normally takes several weeks to several months for antibodies to the virus to develop after HIV transmission. When antibodies to HIV appear in the blood, a person will test positive in the standard ELISA test for HIV.

Primary HIV infection may or may not include acute HIV, a flu-like syndrome that occurs immediately after a person contracts HIV. Acute HIV is characterized by fever, sore throat, headache, skin rash and swollen glands (lymphadenopathy).

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Last Editorial Review: 1/24/2017

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