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Know the HIV Risk
What is HIV?
How do I know if I
Can I get or transmit
What can increase
What can decrease
What are the best ways to decrease my chances of getting or transmitting HIV?
Acute HIV infection is the earliest phase of HIV infection, occurring within 2 to 4 weeks after HIV infection. It's sometimes called acute HIV syndrome, acute retroviral syndrome, or primary HIV infection.
Acute HIV infection is the phase of infection right after people are infected but before they develop antibodies to HIV. Some people with acute infection get flu-like symptoms, but not everyone with acute infection feels sick. +
Flu-like symptoms include fever, chills, rash, night sweats, muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, or mouth ulcers. If you have these symptoms, that doesn't mean you have HIV. But, if you have these symptoms after a potential exposure to HIV, see a health care provider and tell them about your risk.
When people have acute infection, they're much more likely to transmit HIV to others because the amount of virus in their blood is very high. This means that a person is much more likely to get HIV from someone who has acute infection than from someone who has been infected with HIV longer, even if the person who has been infected longer is not taking HIV medicines. The difference in transmission risk between a person living with acute HIV and someone on treatment and virally suppressed is even greater. +
For each sex act, the risk of getting HIV from someone not on treatment is about 7 times greater if they have acute HIV than the risk of getting HIV from someone who has asymptomatic HIV.
For each sex act, the risk of getting HIV from someone with acute infection and not on treatment is 180 times greater than the risk of getting HIV from someone who has HIV but is on treatment and virally suppressed.
During acute infection, you may seem to be HIV-negative (uninfected) because you have not yet developed antibodies to HIV-but you're infected. Most current HIV tests work by detecting the HIV antibodies a person develops after becoming infected. But there is a window period during which a person is infected but doesn't yet have detectable antibodies. A fourth-generation or nucleic acid test (NAT) test can be used to find out whether someone may have acute infection.
If you feel like you have the flu and you had a potential HIV exposure in the past month, talk to your health care provider about what type of HIV test you should take and what its window period is. Some health care providers may not know about the NAT, but it can detect the virus earlier than any other test, about 10 days after infection. + You should avoid potentially exposing other people to HIV through sex and drug use until you get tested and know your results. +
Find more information on HIV RNA tests.
If you find out you are HIV-positive, getting in care and taking medicine to treat HIV the right way, every day will give you the greatest chance to get and stay virally suppressed, live a longer, healthier life, and reduce the chance of transmitting HIV to your partners.
If you're HIV-negative and have an HIV-positive partner, encourage your partner to get in care and take HIV treatment medicines.
Taking other actions, like using a condom the right way every time you have sex or having your partners take daily medicine to prevent HIV (called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP) if you're HIV-negative, can lower your chances of transmitting or getting HIV even more.
Learn about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's HIV prevention campaigns: