Acute HIV rash: Early & Common Symptoms & Advance Treatments

Early HIV infection photo

What is Acute HIV rash?

The acute HIV rash usually appears during the primary infection stage. The rash can appear in a single or multiple parts of the body, and it may cause itching at times. This Buzzle article dwells on the acute HIV rash, its appearance, and how to treat or manage the rash.

HIV stands for the human immunodeficiency virus that causes the dreaded disease AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). The acute or primary HIV infection can be asymptomatic in some individuals, but in others, it can produce flu- or mononucleosis-like symptoms. Along with flu-like symptoms, some affected individuals can develop a skin rash, which is known as acute HIV rash.

Symptoms of Acute Hiv 

When you are first infected with HIV, you may experience a short ‘flu-like’ illness as your immune system attempts to fight the virus.

If you notice any of these early signs:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Tiredness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Joint/ muscle pain
  • Swollen glands
  • Skin rash

and have recently put yourself at risk (either through unprotected sex or injecting drugs), you should get tested. You can order a HIV testing kit from our team of online doctors and learn your status within 2 days.

Early Acute HIV Symptoms

When the HIV virus first enters your body, you may experience a short ‘flu-like’ illness.

This is known as the ‘seroconversion illness,’ and it occurs because your blood is being converted from HIV negative to HIV positive by the production of antibodies.

Everybody infected with HIV will seroconvert at some stage, but only about 80% of patients will notice any symptoms.

Seroconversion usually occurs 1 – 3 weeks after infection, but could take up to 6 months.

Common Early Acute HIV Symptoms

The most common early signs are ‘flu like’ symptoms that you’d expect from most 24-hour bugs.

You’ll probably start with a high fever, chills and sweats which may be accompanied by a sore throat and mouth ulcers.

You may find it difficult to chew or eat, which can cause rapid weight loss.

You may develop a severe headache, have difficulty concentrating and feel weak and unsteady on your feet.

Treatment for Acute HIV Infections

Advances in viral control and immune system preservation have made skin problems less severe and less common. Skin problems that occur due to HIV have also become easier to treat.

The most common form of treatment to manage HIV rash is medication. Depending on the cause of the rash, over-the-counter drugs such as hydrocortisone cream or Benadryl may be helpful for reducing itchiness and rash size. More serious rashes may require prescription medication from your doctor.

In most untreated patients, set-point plasma HIV-1 RNA levels stabilize between 1,000 and 10,000 copies per mL for a number of years. In the advanced stages of AIDS, HIV-1 RNA levels exceed 1 million copies per mL. In the absence of treatment, the apparent “nonprogessor” with an HIV-1 RNA level of less than 400 copies per mL is rare. Nonprogression is the state hopefully achievable with early aggressive therapy.

The three-drug combinations can be the same as those used to treat established HIV infection. We use the following:

  • A nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) with good central nervous system penetration, such as zidovudine (Retrovir; AZT), stavudine (Zerit; d4T) or abacavir (Ziagen).
  • A nonthymidine NRTI such as didanosine (Videx; ddI), lamivudine (Epivir; 3TC) or zalcitabine (Hivid; ddC).
  • A protease inhibitor such as indinavir (Crixivan), nelfinavir (Viracept), ritonavir (Norvir), saquinavir (Fortovase) or amprenavir (Agenerase). If a protease inhibitor is not tolerated or if the plan is to reserve protease inhibitors for future use should resistance develop, a nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, such as nevirapine (Viramune), delavirdine (Rescriptor) or efavirenz (Sustiva; EFV), should be tried.

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