Cough, sore throat and rash – are these signs of HIV or ARS?
HIV (Human immunodefiency virus) is an incurable disease that gradually weakens your immune system making you more susceptible to other diseases. If left untreated for long enough you may progress to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
ARS or acute retroviral syndrome includes symptoms that you may experience in the early stages of HIV infection. The HIV symptoms are often described as ‘the worst flu ever’ and usually show 2-4 weeks after exposure. These symptoms may include but are not limited to:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Swollen glands
- Rash over the body
However, these symptoms are also seen in many other, more common conditions such as the common cold, flu, normal viral infections, and may even be environmental (for example smoking may cause sore throat and cough).
If someone truly has been recently infected with HIV, up to 70% may experience these ARS symptoms. But since the symptoms are so varied and can overlap with many other conditions it is important to note that just because you have them does not mean you have HIV. To reiterate – many new HIV infections will cause ARS symptoms but many people experiencing what they believe to be ARS will not have HIV.
The moral to this article is that acute HIV infection are not specific enough to diagnose HIV. If you have had a risky exposure or just want to be 100% sure then the only way to put your mind at rest is to get tested.
I hope that whoever reads this article can now rest a little easier knowing that the symptoms they are experiencing are less likely to be caused by HIV but the best plan is to get tested to be sure.