Many people experience a flu-like illness in the time shortly after contracting HIV. These symptoms follow the course of a fairly normal flu and clear up in a short time, at which time HIV enters its asymptomatic phase. Some people don't experience symptoms or do not recognize their symptoms as significant. Symptoms also present themselves differently in children. The only way to know one's HIV status is with a test.
Acute HIV Infection
According to HIV-Symptoms.info, the symptoms of acute HIV infection include fever and headache, aches and pains, a sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, skin rash and digestive problems. AIDS.org reports that these symptoms generally develop between two weeks and one month after the virus has been contracted and will clear up within a month.
Asymptomatic Acute HIV Infection
Many people don't experience symptoms at all as a result of acute HIV infection, and will not experience any symptoms until HIV disease has advanced to its third, symptomatic stage. Even when people do experience symptoms and seek out medical treatment for them, these symptoms likely will not lead to a diagnosis of HIV. A diagnosis of the flu or other flu-like illness is a much more likely explanation for the symptoms.
Testing is the only way to confirm whether HIV has been contracted because the symptoms of acute HIV infection are nondiagnostic. If an individual suspects she might have contracted HIV, she should consult a health care professional about HIV testing (see Resources).
Symptoms in Children
Children experience different symptoms of HIV than adults. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), these include stunted mental and physical growth along with neurological and motor problems. According to the NIAID, about 20 percent of children born with HIV become ill during the first year of life while the rest remain healthy until they reach school age or beyond.
Symptomatic HIV Disease
Many people do not realize they have contracted HIV until the third stage, which is known as symptomatic HIV-disease. This happens an average of 10 years after infection, although there is no way to know how long this will take for any individual person. The symptoms of third-stage HIV disease include a chronic flu-like illness such as that experienced during acute infection. Other symptoms include night sweats, weight loss, fungal infections and breathing troubles, according to HIV-Symptoms.info.