Is a Bad Sore Throat or Muscle Aches a Sign You Have HIV?

A sore throat and muscle aches are symptoms that sometimes occur in the first few weeks of HIV infection. But a huge range of other infections and health problems (that are more common than HIV) can cause them too.

The Symptoms of Early HIV Infection

In the first four weeks of HIV infection, your immune system tries to mount a defense. That defense can cause many people to briefly have symptoms that may include a sore throat, muscle or joint aches and pains, rashes, chills, night sweats, headaches, feeling generally unwell, mouth ulcers, weight loss, tiredness and swollen glands.

Just because you have these symptoms, it doesn't mean you have HIV. The symptoms are almost impossible to tell apart from symptoms you might get if you have another type of viral infection, such as the flu or mononucleosis (glandular fever).

In fact, because the other possible causes of a sore throat and muscle aches and pains are so much more common than HIV, there is a very good chance that there is a different cause for these problems.

For instance, a sore throat (pharyngitis) may also be caused by a cold, allergies, smoking, strep throat or tonsillitis. Muscle pain is frequently related to tension, overuse, or muscle injury from exercise or physically demanding work.

If you are concerned about a recent sexual encounter that may have exposed you to HIV, the best way to resolve these fears is by getting an HIV test. It's the best thing you can do not only for your own health, but also to help ensure that HIV does not spread to others (if you do turn out to be HIV positive). You should mention the symptoms you've had to your healthcare provider when seeking a test.

More on Sore Throat and Muscle Aches at

To find out more about the possible symptoms of acute HIV infection, we recommend the following articles:

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

  • A sore throat and more
    Repeated HIV tests in the past month -- OraQuick and PCR -- came back negative. But I still have a sore throat, persistent diarrhea, muscle pain and other symptoms. Can I be sure it's not HIV?
  • Periodic throat pain
    I slept with a guy I know nothing about. Seven days later, I developed a sore throat that's lasted on and off for weeks. I'm having lots of other symptoms, too.

Elsewhere on the Web

For reliable information on these topics that's available on other websites, we recommend the following pages: