Soon after HIV infection (during the first four weeks), some symptoms are possible. One of them is a rash, primarily in the upper portion of the body.
However, it isn't usually itchy. Itchy skin without a red rash is unlikely to be anything to do with HIV. Moreover, most rashes are caused by something other than HIV.
Skin Conditions and HIV
When a rash is caused by recent HIV infection, it would usually be accompanied by other symptoms, such as sore throat, muscle and joint aches and pains, chills, night sweats, headaches, feeling generally unwell, mouth ulcers, weight loss, tiredness and swollen glands. Even if you do have a few of these symptoms together, it's more likely to be the flu, mononucleosis or another viral infection than HIV.
If a person with HIV has not received antiretroviral treatment, several years later their immune system may be so severely weakened that other skin conditions are possible. A rash at this stage is likely to be itchy and the person would generally be in quite poor health. This would only occur several years (for example, around 10 years) after infection.
Skin conditions are extremely common and have many possible causes. They are rarely caused by HIV.
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).
More on the Symptoms of HIV/AIDS at TheBody.com
To find out more about the symptoms of HIV infection, we recommend the following articles:
In addition, our Q&A experts sometimes address questions about skin problems in our "Ask the Experts" forums. Here are some of those questions and our experts' responses:
- Skin problems and HIV risk
I've had numerous skin issues over the past few years -- Would chronic angular cheilitis, seborrheic dermatitis and extremely dry, itchy skin in the winter. Should I be concerned about HIV?
- Red spots and itchy skin
I had oral and vaginal sex several months ago. Last month I started having itchy skin and noticing red, black and brown spots. Does this sound like HIV?
- Itchy and dry
My face, chest and arms all are extremely dry and itchy. I'm on HIV treatment, but my viral load is low. What's going on?
Elsewhere on the Web
For additional reliable information on these topics, we recommend the following pages on other websites: