Acute Symptom Timeline
Nov 18, 2002
I've read where you say people develop acute infection symptoms in 2-4 weeks after exposure...can they happen faster than that?
Response from Mr. Kull
Yes, one could experience acute infection symptoms earlier or later than the 2-4 week average. But please don't use this information as a way of convincing yourself that you are HIV infected. This information is primarily useful for those who have significant exposures; by significant I mean, unprotected anal or vaginal sex with a person known to be HIV infected, or clearly at significant risk for infection.
Let me be more specific: trying to determine your HIV status based on symptoms you are experiencing is unwise, anxiety provoking, and unreliable. Recent HIV infection (acute HIV infection, acute retroviral syndrome) should only be considered if ALL of the following are true:
1) You had unprotected vaginal or anal sex (inserting or receiving a penis without a condom) within the past three months. You are at greatest risk as the receptive partner with ejaculation inside of the body.
2) Your partner was known to be HIV infected, or is a person who is in a "high-risk" category (a man who has sex with men, an injection drug user, or a person who has sexual contact with others in an area of high HIV incidence or prevalence, like sub-Saharan Africa).
3) Your symptoms are indicative of acute HIV infection (febrile illness, sometimes compared to flu or mono). The specific symptoms can vary from person to person, but acute infection most often manifests in this "flu-like" manner.
If all of the above are true for you, see a doctor to have your symptoms evaluated. If all of the above are not true, you should still have your symptoms evaluated by a doctor, but it is not likely that they are related to HIV infection.
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