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Are Red Dots on the Tongue a Sign of HIV?

August 23, 2016

Red dots on the tongue are not usually a sign of recent HIV infection. They could have many different causes; we would recommend seeing a health care provider in order to work out what the problem is. It may well be something trivial.

Sometimes, yellow or gray ulcers on the gums or tongue can be a symptom of recent HIV infection. But these can also be linked to many other health conditions.

Other possible symptoms of HIV infection in the past four weeks can include sore throat, muscle and joint aches and pains, rashes, chills, night sweats, headaches, feeling generally unwell, weight loss, tiredness and swollen glands. These symptoms are associated with the immune system's natural defense against HIV.

If somebody has had HIV for several years and has not received treatment for it, a number of oral health problems are possible. These problems are all associated with severe immune-deficiency. They would typically be accompanied by several other illnesses or health problems.

If you do have oral health problems, it is highly likely that they are caused by something other than HIV. Your doctor can give you more information. If you remain concerned that they could be related to HIV, you could take an HIV test in order to reassure yourself.

More on the Symptoms of HIV/AIDS at

To find out more about this issue, we recommend the following articles:

In addition, our Q&A experts sometimes address questions about oral health problems in our "Ask the Experts" forums. Here are some of those questions and our experts' responses:

  • Coated tongue with red dots
    I have recently developed a white tongue. It is consistently white across the surface, with perfectly spaced red dots. It isn't painful but there is a bit of a burning feeling.
  • Diagnosis symptom checker feature told me I have HIV
    My tongue is burning, there are red dots on it, and I have 3 swollen nodes in my armpit. Red dots on my stomach and face have faded... I've had negative results on a PCR RNA test at 11 weeks and an anti-body test at 14 weeks. What are my chances of turning HIV-positive at six months?

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