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Early Symptoms
Sep 16, 1996

Once infected with HIV is it likely that any symptoms will appear in the time following the exposure( say 3 -4 weeks).

Response from Dr. Cohen

The acute retroviral syndrome, or symptomatic primary HIV infection, occurs in anywhere from 50 to 90% of people who become HIV infected, usually 2 to 4 weeks after exposure. The symptoms include fever, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, rash, and muscle or joint aches. Other symptoms (including symptoms due to neurologic manifestations of acute infection) occur in a minority of individuals, and of course, some people may develop only a few of these symptoms, or none at all. During this syndrome, there is a fall in lymphocytes and CD4 cells, which is usually mild and temporary. However, in some cases the CD4 cell count has fallen so low that opportunistic infections occur, such as Pneumocystis pneumonia. The HIV serology will usually be either negative or indeterminate during this phase; however, HIV PCR, p24 antigen, and quantitative viral load tests (HIV RNA) will be positive. The symptoms last between 1 and 4 weeks. Viral load is high during this period, but becomes very low after recovery.

Any symptoms related to HIV that could occur within the first 3-4 weeks would be related to this syndrome. Symptoms of advanced HIV disease or AIDS would not occur that early, except in those rare cases I mentioned in which the CD4 count has fallen to very low levels.



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