Skip to main content
Symptoms

HIV is a virus that damages your immune system. If not treated, it can cause AIDS, where you become too weak to fight off life-threatening infections.

HIV often starts with a flu-like illness. After that, you might have no symptoms for many years, but the damage to your immune system continues.

There's no cure for HIV, but medicines called antiretrovirals can control the virus and prevent further damage.

HIV is spread through body fluids like semen, vaginal fluids, blood and breast milk. In the UK, it's mainly caught by having sex without a condom.

You can reduce your risk of HIV by using a condom for sex and not sharing needles or syringes.

Read more on the NHS website.

HIV often starts with a flu-like illness. After that, you might have no symptoms for many years, but the damage to your immune system continues.

Symptoms of HIV infection

Most people experience a short flu-like illness 2 to 6 weeks after HIV infection, which lasts for a week or 2.

After these symptoms disappear, HIV may not cause any symptoms for many years, although the virus continues to damage your immune system.

This means many people with HIV do not know they're infected.

Anyone who thinks they could have HIV should get tested.

Certain groups of people are advised to have regular tests as they're at particularly high risk, including:

Read more on the NHS website.

There's no cure for HIV, but medicines called antiretrovirals can control the virus and prevent further damage.

Medical treatments

Antiretroviral medicines are used to treat HIV. They work by stopping the virus replicating in the body, allowing the immune system to repair itself and preventing further damage.

These come in the form of tablets, which need to be taken every day.

HIV is able to develop resistance to a single HIV medicine very easily, but taking a combination of different medicines makes this much less likely.

Most people with HIV take a combination of medicines. It's vital these are taken every day as recommended by your doctor.

The goal of HIV treatment is to have an undetectable viral load. This means the level of HIV virus in your body is low enough to not be detected by a test.

Read more on the NHS website.

You can reduce your risk of HIV by using a condom for sex and not sharing needles or syringes.

Read more on the NHS website.

HIV is spread through body fluids like semen, vaginal fluids, blood and breast milk. In the UK, it's mainly caught by having sex without a condom.

Read more on the NHS website.