The only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested. HIV tests are offered at your doctor’s office, Planned Parenthood and free clinics. The virus can take three to five months to appear in your bloodstream, so if you feel you’re at risk, get tested every four to six months.
Some people start experiencing symptoms as soon as they become infected, while others can go years without exhibiting any. Early-stage symptoms are similar to those of the flu and can include:
- Enlarged lymph nodes
Because you can have HIV for some time before you detect it, if your test comes back positive, you should contact all of your previous sexual partners and inform them so they can get tested as well.
Once HIV begins affecting your immune system, symptoms worsen and can include:
- Fluctuating fever
- Dry cough
- Night sweats
- Diarrhea that lasts for more than a week
- Rapid weight loss
- Swollen glands
Late-stage symptoms can include:
- White spots or unusual blemishes on the tongue, mouth or in the throat
- Gray, brown, pink or purple splotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose or eyelid
- Memory loss
- Other neurological disorders
Treatment options can dramatically improve your quality of life and keep the virus in check. If you think you have HIV, don’t wait — get tested and get started on treatment.
Learn more about detecting HIV in the below video: