HIV Symptoms in Men

What are the tell-tale signs of HIV in men?

Last reviewed: 19 Mar 2019

Bearded man walking with phone in hand thinking about what the symptoms of hiv in men are

Key takeaways

  • Early-stage HIV Infection symptoms include a ‘flu-like’ illness and a dark skin rash

  • This can be followed by a period of feeling completely healthy, which could last for up to 10 years after being infected

  • Advanced HIV Infection symptoms can include fungal nail infections, recurrent colds, dementia or confusion

  • If you believe you have been infected with HIV then you should get tested

Contents of this article

Signs and symptoms of HIV in men can range from flu-like symptoms, to dementia, weight loss and fatigue.

An HIV infection can remain symptomless for many years. The only way of knowing your status for sure, is getting tested. You can order an HIV testing kit from our website and receive your test results within 2 days.

How to spot early HIV symptoms in men

In general, the HIV symptoms that men will experience are not all that different to those found in women. Apart from vaginal or menstrual changes all the tell-tale signs are the same in men and women.

HIV symptoms can vary significantly between patients. No two HIV-positive men will have exactly the same experience.

In general, a man's HIV infection will follow this general pattern:

  • Acute illness: This may or may not occur. Around 70% of patients notice it. If this occurs, it is most likely to happen 1-2 weeks post infection. Symptoms include fever, sickness and chills.
  • Asymptomatic period: A long period of time (up to 10 years) in which you do not experience any symptoms.
  • Advanced infection: A highly weakened immune system makes you susceptible to a number of different illnesses.

"Flu-like" illness

One of the earliest HIV symptoms in men is a severe 'flu-like' illness, known as the 'seroconversion illness.'

Seroconversion is the point in time where a person's blood is converted from being HIV negative to HIV positive, by the production of antibodies. It is often accompanied by an acute illness, the symptoms of which vary significantly between patients.

However, a man may experience:

  • Severe headaches
  • Fever (with temperatures over 100 degrees F)
  • Chills and sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Severe muscle ache
  • Sickness and diarrhoea
  • Rapid weight loss

More information on the symptoms of HIV.

Order an HIV test kit online
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Ulcers and other skin conditions

Unusual skin problems can occur as either early or late HIV symptoms in men:

  • Rashes may develop on 'moist' areas of a man's body such as the groin, penis or anus
  • They may develop on the face and neck, chest/ torso and palms of hands
  • They may be either itchy or minor and painless
  • A man might develop painful ulcers within the mouth or throat which do not go away and make eating difficult

More information on HIV rashes.

Asymptomatic period

For up to 10 years after being infected, your infection will go through an asymptomatic period where you feel perfectly healthy. During this time, the HIV virus replicates within your body and starts to break down your immune system.

Some men complain of severely swollen lymph nodes (in the neck, or groin, or both) during this time, but this may be one of the only HIV symptoms men will experience.

Symptoms of an advanced HIV infection

It may take a number of weeks, months or years, but the HIV infection will eventually break down your immune system if you don’t start treatment. This weakened immune system leaves the body susceptible to attack by so called 'opportunistic infections.' These are conditions that your body would normally be able to fight off, but which can prove fatal in HIV-positive individuals.

You may notice:

  • Recurrent fungal infections such as fungal nail infections that will not go away or respond to over-the-counter medication
  • Recurrent colds, flu and viruses
  • Dementia, confusion and impaired motor skills

What should a man do if he notices symptoms?

If you notice any of these symptoms and you've recently put yourself at risk of HIV infection, you should get tested as soon as possible. You can visit your local GUM clinic or order a home test kit online. Even if you don’t have symptoms, if you think you may have been exposed to HIV, you should always get tested.

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Dr Nicholas Antonakopoulos graduated from the University of London in 2006. He did his postgraduate training in hospitals in the London area, and he trained for four years in Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery before completing his training in General practice in 2015.

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Last reviewed: 19 Mar 2019

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