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Acute Retroviral Syndrome (ARS)

This strikes you as a flu-like sickness usually about 2 to 4 weeks following initial infection.The symptoms usually last 3 to 14 days and go away on their own, just like the flu.It is estimated 50% to 90% of persons infected will get this syndrome.The most common symptoms are fever (fever means 100˚F or higher), sore throat, swollen glands in the neck, armpits and groin, muscle and joint pains, rash and/or night sweats.Less common symptoms include weight loss (10 to 15 pounds), diarrhea, nausea, headache, and, very rarely, yeast infections of the mouth (thrush).Respiratory things like runny nose, sinus infection, coughing, sneezing, etc. are not generally considered symptoms of this syndrome.

The symptoms do not generally last longer than 14 days and will rarely occur 6 or more weeks after exposure.The symptoms may range from mild to severe, but mild symptoms will typically last a shorter period of time than severe ones, and the symptoms that are going to occur usually do so all at once.After this period, you most likely will not get another HIV-related illness for 10 or more years; however, there have been rare cases where the person went directly into AIDS following ARS.

All of these symptoms may be caused by other factors, including the flu or stress.You cannot diagnose HIV based on symptoms, only by testing; however, if you experience these symptoms after a high-risk encounter, you may want to see your doctor.

Whether or not you get this syndrome may or may not impact the testing window period very much, but will probably indicate how the disease will progress.I have read that some say you will test positive about 10 days after having this syndrome, others state it doesnít affect the window period at all.You are extremely infectious during this period, so if you fear you may have ARS, be extra careful with safer sex and sharing needles.  There is some debate over the subject, but itís likely that beginning treatment during this syndrome will greatly affect how the disease will progress later on.