HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a retrovirus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The virus breaks down the immune system, making the infected person susceptible to opportunistic attacks from diseases and cancers.
If you’re concerned that you may have or may have been exposed to HIV, you should absolutely get tested as soon as possible. You can find a testing facility near you at aids.gov by entering your zip code. In the meantime, this article will go over some of the common symptoms you may experience during the early stages of the disease, in particular the “HIV rash,” as well as provide information about treatment and medication.
Early Symptoms of HIV
Shortly after infection, you may experience a short ‘flu-like’ or ‘mono-like’ illness. This is known as the ’seroconversion illness.’ Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, night sweats, swollen glands, fever, mouth ulcers, joint pain, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
The seroconversion illness can occur anywhere from two weeks to six months after infection. Roughly 70% - 90% of people will experience this seroconversion illness, though a small percentage won’t have any symptoms at all.
How to Recognize Early Symptoms of Primary HIV
HIV Rash Symptoms
One of the early signs of HIV infection is a rash. Keep in mind, though, that while a rash is the most common symptom of HIV infection, it is not always caused by HIV. The rash could be the result of your skin’s sensitivity to chemicals or sunlight or it could be a side effect of certain HIV medications, which will be discussed below. According to the UC San Diego Healthcare clinic, roughly 90% of people with HIV experience skin symptoms at some stage of the disease.
HIV Rash Locations
The rash usually appears as a red area of flattened skin covered with red bumps. The rash can form in any part of the body, but most often occurs on the chest and the face. It can also appear on the hands and feet and may co-present with mouth ulcers. You can see examples of what the rash looks like in the images below.
HIV Rash Images
HIV Rash Treatment
Most rashes can simply be treated with over-the-counter medications such as calamine lotions. More severe or persistent rashes may require a prescription from a doctor. In addition to these treatments there are also some lifestyle changes that may help get rid of these skin conditions. These include:
- Avoiding hot showers and baths
- Avoiding harsh chemical toiletries and detergents
- Wearing cool fibers like cotton to allow ventilation
- Using an air humidifier
- Avoiding heat and direct sunlight, which can make the skin more sensitive.
HIV Medication Side-Effects
In addition to being one of the most common early symptoms of HIV, rash is also one of the most common side effects of HIV medications. The vast majority of rashes due to HIV medicine are not serious and will go away on their own.
However, if you are on HIV medications and you notice a rash, you should be sure to inform your doctor as it could be a symptom of a rare but life-threatening hypersensitivity reaction. A hypersensitivity reaction is a rare allergic reaction to a medicine. Other symptoms could include fever, fatigue, difficulty breathing, and kidney damage.
Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) is a rare but life-threatening hyper-sensitivity reaction associated with some HIV medications. Symptoms include fever, pain or itching on the skin, swelling of the face and tongue, blisters around the mouth, nose, and eyes, and a quickly spreading rash.
When SJS affects at least 30% of the skin’s total surface area, the condition is called toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). TEN can cause the skin to peel away in some places, exposing the patient to further infections. In the past, there was very little that one could do about the rash, but medical advancements and proper care are helping patients in effectively treating the rash.
HIV Medication and Hypersensitivity
Nevirapine (also known as Viramune) and Abacavir (also known as Ziagen) are two HIV medications that have been known to increase skin sensitivity and make it more susceptible to hypersensitivity reactions.
Nevirapine: To reduce the risk of a hypersensitivity reaction, the doctor will start you on a gradual schedule, taking two full weeks to reach the full recommended dose. During those two weeks, you will be closely monitored for signs of hypersensitivity.
Abacavir: Hypersensitivity reactions to Abacavir, has been linked to the HLA-B*5701 molecule. People who test positive for this molecule should not use abacavir, nor should they take any combination medicines such as Epzicom, Triumeq, and Trizivir, all of which contain Abacavir as part of a larger drug "cocktail." Should you develop signs of hypersensitivity while on Abacavir, you should stop the medication immediately.
Symptoms of HIV/AIDS
When the body’s immune system is compromised, certain symptoms will begin to show up. These include:
- Rapid weight loss.
- Night sweats
- Swollen lymph nodes at groin and armpit
- Dry cough
- Ulcers around the mouth and genitals
How Is HIV Transmitted?
Though HIV/AIDS is very scary for people, there is still a lot of unfounded fear surrounding the disease. In reality, it’s not easy to transmit. To become infected, infected blood, semen, or vaginal secretions must enter your body. You cannot get HIV from casual contact such as shaking hands, hugging, or even kissing. It cannot be transmitted through the air, water, or insect bites. The most common ways for HIV to be transmitted include:
- Unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse with someone who has the virus. The virus can enter your body through mouth sores or small tears during sex.
- Sharing needles. HIV can be transmitted through a syringe or needle that is contaminated with infected blood. This makes intravenous drug users who share paraphernalia a particularly high risk group for HIV transmission.
- Pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding. Infected mothers can infect their babies. But mothers who receive HIV treatment during pregnancy can dramatically reduce the possibility of passing the disease along.
How Do I Keep from Contracting the Virus?
Most people say that you should abstain from sex with an untested partner. Barring that, you should always make sure that you use protection when having sex with anyone whose HIV status you don’t know. You should get tested before you have unprotected sex and ideally only have unprotected sex in a monogamous relationship. You should also avoid sharing of needles. If you are drug users, then you should go to a needle exchange program.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. There is currently a medication that can prevent the transmission of HIV called Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP. When taken daily, the medication significantly reduces the risk of contracting HIV by as much as 92%. However, it is not as effective if it is not taken consistently. Because of the high cost of the medication and because it needs to be taken consistently to be effective, it is only recommended for us with people who are at a high risk of infection, including gay men and healthcare workers.
HIV Life Expectancy and Cure
As of 2010, there were 34 million people worldwide infected with HIV. More than half of this population consists of women and close to 3.5 million are children below the age of 15. In 2010, there were 1.8 million deaths from HIV, which is less than the 2005 figure of 2.2 million. South Africa has been the worst affected country with 5.9 million suffering from the disease.
Overall, the life expectancy of HIV patients depend on the quality of the healthcare available, the patient’s commitment to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and abstinence from smoking, alcohol and drugs. Most people manage who adhere to sound health practices manage to live beyond 70 years of age. HIV life expectancy has improved significantly over the last ten years.
There is good news for people who are wondering if there ever will be a cure for HIV. Françoise Barré-Sinouss, famous French virologist and Nobel Prize Winner for physiology and medicine is working with her team for what is known as ‘functional cure’ for HIV. Though total eradication of HIV virus is not possible, the team is close to finding a way to develop a treatment that can make the disease easily manageable.
Elizabeth Fletcher on August 22, 2015:
I can’t believe this. A great testimony that i must share to all HIV/AIDS SIMPLEX VIRUS patient in the world i never believed that there could be any complete cure for HIV/AIDS or any cure for HIV/AIDS,i saw people’s testimony on blog sites of how prophet suleman prepare herbal cure and sent to them and they were cured. i had to try it too and you can,t believe that in just few weeks i started using it all my pains stop gradually and i had to leave without the HIV/AIDS the doctor gave to me. Right now i can tell you that few months now i have not had any pain, and i have just went for text last week and the doctor confirmed that there is no trace of any HIV/AIDS on my system. Glory be to God for leading me to this genuine prophet suleman I am so happy as i am sharing this testimony. My advice to you all who thinks that there is no cure for HIV/AIDS that is Not true, Here is his email firstname.lastname@example.org to you all he can also cure more types of disease like, CANCER,HSV,HLS.
Selina on August 05, 2015:
i am from united kingdom i just want to pass this to everyone that is sicking from any kind of disease that the solution to all diseases and sickness have arrive, i was just cured by Dr idahosa the great healer after i have been passing through stress all day and night. i never know i was going to be cured of this HIV sickness in my life cause they said there is no cure, i am proving all those that said that there is no cure wrong cause i have just been cured with herbal medicine of Dr idahosa the great healer, i cant talk cause my heart is full of excitement and i am using this medium of my testimony to inform you all to contact this man for any kind of sickness and he is ready to help you solve your problem. please if you are out there passing through any sickness kindly contact him here through his email address: email@example.com he is waiting for you. once more i say a very big thank you for what you have done for me, i will keep my promise to keep sharing testimony about what God have use you to do in my life.
NELLY BETTY on January 23, 2015:
My names SANDRA ABLE, I am from Canada I am here to give my testimony about a great Dr egoro who help me in my life. I was infected with HIV virus in the 2012,i went to many hospitals, churches for cure but there was no solution out, so I was thinking how can I get a solution out so that i cannot loose my life, I lost everything I have my husband run away from me and also took my children along because of my sickness. One day I was in the river side thinking the next step to take if it is to jump into the river so that I can loose my life totally or just think where I can go to get solution. so a lady walk to me telling me why am I so sad and i open up all to him telling her my stories, she told me that she can help me out that’s the reason she normally come here to help people so that thy can be cured because she was into this problem before, she introduce me to a doctor who cast spells on people and gave me he number and email so i called him and also email him. He told me all the things I need to provide and also give me instructions to take, which I followed properly. Before I knew what is happening he called me and told me that i should go for an HIV test and which i did as he told me and the result was negative. so if you are also heart brokened and also need a help you can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
21 Years Poz on December 14, 2014:
Everyone...notice the International Phone number...they all start with 234...which comes out of Nigeria. What is one of the countries which has the largest scams rings? Nigeria! Additionally, look at the sentence structure of the testimonies...trust me those are not written by individuals who use English as an initial language. 98% of these testimonials are written by the pushers of this healing technique. Be smart, if you are going to just give your money away, why not to a children's hospital. Be smart people...don't be taken by a scam artist. I would hate to think that individuals who are HIV positive or with AIDS are giving their money away. There are plenty of people in your local area can provide help, even herbal healing if that is what you want. Be aware, people will take advantage of others in a time of need. I wish you the best in your fight to heal.
21 Years Poz on December 13, 2014:
I have been poz for a long time...and be careful when reading these testemonies. There is NO cure for HIV/AIDS, only the means of increasing your T-cells. Reading the posting above, I can tell you there is some scams involved. Just be smart and don't give your hard earned money away. Exercise, eat healthy, and see a respectable doctor (in person). Anything other than in-person is a scam.
Eric on October 05, 2014:
Fake people! People be Wise
petien on August 22, 2014:
Hello am p research is still going on for cure lets be realistic onless or otherwise proven wrong
john on August 05, 2014:
My deepest sympathy with ppl having this sickness.. I went through almost all the articles... Just want to know if there are so many doctors out there with such amazing herbs how is that its still not on any news channel or paper and still thousands of people are dieing every year because of this sickness...??
gracerose mary on August 02, 2014:
this is real take it serious, who will believe that a herb can cure ten years HIV in my body, i never believe that this will work i have spend a lot when getting drugs from the hospital to keep me healthy, what i was waiting for is death because i was broke, one day i hard about this great man who is well know of HIV and cancer cure, i decided to email him, unknowingly to me that this will be the end of the HIV aids in my body, he prepare the herb for me, and give me instruction on how to take it, at the end of the two week, he told me to go to the hospital for a check up, and i went, surprisingly after the test the doctor confirm me negative, i thought it was a joke, i went to other hospital was also negative, then i took my friend who was also HIV positive to the Dr, after the treatment she was also confirm negative . He also have the herb to cure cancer please i want every one with this virus to be free, that is why am dropping his email address, email@example.com do email him he is a great man. the government is also interested in this DR, thank you for saving my life, and I promise I will always testify for your good work,
cynthia on August 01, 2014:
Am from USA, am here to give my testimony about how i got my HIV disease and how I was flew from it quickly after having on trust on my spell doctor who cured me immediately. Since the year I married to the man I did love because my parents false me to marry him, I have not been enjoying my relationship and sex life with him, he do spend time on his work and don’t have time for me sometimes, he do sleep at his work and also do carry women’s because he has the money to spent but doesn’t spend it on me. So I was so jealous to the extent that I can’t even control my anger and I decided to start cheating on him with my ex-boyfriend, because my husband do not always be at home expect on weekends, I have sex with him without protection, after some months been in love with my ex-boyfriend I was so sick and I decided to go to test and I found that I was HIV positive I feel so sad and was ashamed because I did know how to open up to my husband I hate before, my ex-boyfriend denied me and when my husband found about what was going on he divorced me and I was ill for good 3years I went to many places for solutions but there was no solutions. So one day I was asking GOOGLE some questions on how I can get a cure and how I can get some medications which I will be taking to my own surprise they brought one email out named firstname.lastname@example.org that this powerful man can cured HIV, I did believe about the cure before but I took the email and searched it on GOOGLE and I found many good testimonies about him, people have been giving more testimonies about him so i contacted him about my situation, he told me all the procedures which I will take, And I did before I knew what was happening he called me and told me to go for an HIV test which i did and when the result was out I was HIV negative. Thanks to drezomospellhome now as I am giving this testimony I am now fully settle down with my husband now and we both loved ourselves, I give this testimony for people around that was in my shoes so that they can also be cured like me, so if you also need a solution also you can email him at email@example.com
pius on July 25, 2014:
if it is real i want u to connect me throuhg the addrress below firstname.lastname@example.org
mabel on July 08, 2014:
All thanks to Dr olori for curing my HIV positive to Negative, i do not have much to say but with all my life i will for ever be grateful to him and God Almighty for using Dr olori to reach me when i thought it is all over, today am happy with my two kids and my husband after the medical doctor have confirmed my HIV status Negative,i have never in my life believed that HIV could be cure by any herbal medicine. so i want to use this means to reach other persons who have this disease by testifying the wonderful herbs and power of Dr olori that all is not lost yet, try and contact him by any means with his email:email@example.com
cynthia on June 15, 2014:
am from uk am here to give my testimony about how i got my hiv disease and how i flew it quickly after having trust on my spell doctor who cured me immediately .since the year i married to the man i didn't love because my parents false me to marry him.i have been enjoying relationship and sex life with him .he do spend time on work and don't have time for me . sometime he do sleep at his work and also do carry women because he has the money to spend but doesn't spend it on me . so i was so jealous to the extent that i can't control my anger and i decided to start cheating on him with exboyfriend . because my husband donot always be at home except on weeend .i have sex with him without protection .after somemonths been in love with my exboyfriend i was so sick and decided to go have a test and i found i was hiv positive . i feel so sad and i was ashamed because i didn't now how to open up to my husband i hate before my exboyfriend denied me and when my husband found out about what wads going on he devoirced me and i was ill for good 3years i went to many places for solution but there was no solution . so one day i was asing GOOGLE some question on how i can get a cure and how i can get some medication which i will be taking to my own surprise they brought one email out named firstname.lastname@example.org that this powerful man can cure hiv i didn't believe about the cure before but i toke the email and search it on GOOGLE and found many good testimonies about him people have been giving more testimonies about him so i contacted him about my situation . he told me all the procedures which i will take and i did before i knew what was happening he called me and told me to go for an hiv test which i did and when the result was out i was hiv negative .thanks to drogodomigodo now as i am giving this testimony am fully settled down with my husband now and we love ourselves .i give this testimony for people around that was in my shoes so that they can also be cured like me .so if you also need a solution also you can email him at email@example.com
jane on June 15, 2014:
this is unbelievable i am now HIV negative i found cure from dr kubam a great man who help
me out in serious illness I have HIV AID for 4year plus and I was almost
going to the end of my life due to the way my skin look like all I have in
my mind is! let me just give up because life is not interesting to me any
longer but I just pray to God every day to accept my soul when ever I’m
gone luckily to me my elder sister from other country called me on phone that she found a doctor in theinternet who can cure HIV AID she help me out on everything the man ask for
my picture, so he can cast a spiritual spell on me from his temple after all he ask
he promise me my problem will be solved once he is done with the casting of my AIDS 2days AFTER i started getting more stronger my blood start flow
normally 4 to 5 days I start getting Wight before a month i was