The marking of World AIDS Day 2010 has many people wondering about the symptoms of HIV infection.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the onset of HIV symptoms can occur within two to four weeks of infection. However, many of the symptoms could pass for the common cold or flu in addition to HIV.

These initial HIV symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Rash
As time passes, the signs of HIV infection can be difficult to discern. You may be symptom free for years even though the virus is active and impacting your immune system.

Some of the symptoms that can occur in the years following infection include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes (often a strong indicator of HIV)
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Cough and shortness of breath
If the HIV infection progresses into AIDS, the body can no longer fight off the infections that normally have little effect on a healthy immune system. According to the Mayo Clinic, these unchecked infections can lead to these more severe symptoms of HIV:
  • Weight loss
  • Skin rashes or bumps
  • Headaches
  • Night sweats
  • Chills or fever higher than 100 F (38 C) for several weeks
  • Blurred and distorted vision
  • Cough and shortness of breath
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • White spots or unusual lesions on your tongue or in your mouth
  • Persistent, unexplained fatigue
If you are concerned about a possible HIV infection, the best thing to do is to speak with a medical professional about testing options.