What is Primary HIV?

PHI (Primary HIV Infection) Syndrome usually starts within one to six weeks after initial infection of HIV appears as an acute case of flu like symptoms. 

Who is at risk?

Anyone can become infected, but in the US blacks are infected 7 times more often than whites and Hispanics 3 times more often than whites.  Other risk factors for becoming infected with HIV are:

  • Sharing drugs needles
  • Unprotected sex
  • Having other sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis makes you more susceptible to contracting HIV
  • Blood transfusions or other blood products before April 1985 when more stringent screening of blood became the protocol
  • During birth or breast feeding by an infected mother

About half of newly infected people will have signs or symptoms of PHI Syndrome so you need to see your doctor as soon as you notice any signs or symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of PHI Syndrome

  • Temporary rash of small pink to red spots primarily on the trunk of the body
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Headache 
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Arthralgias (joint pain)
  • Photophobia (light sensitivity)
  • Men may notice open sores in the mouth or on the penis

What you should do if you think you may have been exposed

Since people can pass HIV before they even have any symptoms of being infected it is important that if you think you have been exposed to stop sexual activity, do not share needles to inject drugs, and seek medical attention. 

If you have been infected you need to do the following

  • Find a doctor who understand HIV
  • Eat a nutritious balanced diet
  • Keep up with immunizations
  • Stop smoking as well as using drugs
  • Get adequate sleep and exercise
  • Avoid other infections your immune system may have trouble with. You can help this by washing your hands with antibacterial soap, using antibacterial hand sanitizers such as purell, and avoid unpasteurized or raw foods.

If you chose to use over the counter items or alternative health practices such as vitamins or acupuncture be sure to tell your doctor what you are using.

Treatments your doctor may prescribe 

Since Primary HIV Syndrome occurs before a person has the HIV antibodies in their blood strong enough to show up as positive on a blood test the doctor will base their diagnosis on the signs and symptoms along with your lifestyle and if you are in a high risk group such as people who share needles to inject drugs, do not use safe sex practices with multiple partners, or males who have sex with males or are bisexual.  As it may take up to four months for the antibodies to show up in the blood stream it is recommended that those who are likely to be infected should have repeated blood test over a time period to make sure of the results of either positive or negative for HIV.

Notifying your partners 

In most states doctors are required by law to report cases of HIV infections, therefore it is important that you notify your sexual partner(s) as soon as you possible if you have PHI Syndrome.