I know that one should not look at symptoms to diagnose HIV infection, yet I would like to know what the main – most common – symptoms, indicating a primary infection, are. The most generic answer is that the symptoms are ‘flu like”, what does it exactly means? 15 days after I had an unprotected vaginal and oral sex with a stranger I had what, at the time, I thought to be a stomach bug (also known as a 24 hour flu). I had all the classic symptoms at the same day: diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, headache, and a fever (one episode). The next couple of days I was still weak but then it got better. Does 24 hour flu symptoms are also similar to “typical” acute HIV infection? Or the “flu” every expert mentions stretches for a longer period (i.e. multiple fevers)? I am extremely concerned that I possibly got infected with HIV and I obsess with it because it is too soon to go test myself (because of the window period). It is been 50 days since possible exposure and I experience stress symptoms and lately I became really concerned about some tender sensation in my left armpit/chest area. In your answer, can you please address the issue of armpit lymph nodes too? I have to say that I’m terrified.
"Flu-like" symptoms do not include gastrointestinal issues like you describe. Many people erroneously use the term "flu" to describe a stomach virus, which is incorrect. Influenza is the flu, not a stomach virus or a cold.
Your symptoms were not similar to HIV (ARS) symptoms in any way. IF a person who is newly infected experiences ARS, the most common symptoms are a HIGH fever (over 101-102), body aches, night sweats, swollen lymph nodes in several locations, and a rash. The symptoms are severe and will usually have a person out of commission for at least a week.
The reason we don't put any stock in HIV symptoms is because they are not a reliable indicator, many newly infected people do not have even one symptom, while people who THINK they were infected have textbook symptoms, yet end up testing negative. Plus, the symptoms are very commonly seen in other, very common viruses and illnesses.
The only way to determine one's HIV status is to test. A conclusive result can be obtained at 3 months post exposure. You had a risk, from the unoprotected vaginal sex, and oral is not a risk.
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