Acute HIV infection

Alternative Names

Primary HIV infection; HIV seroconversion syndrome; Acute retroviral syndrome; HIV infection – acute

Definition of Acute HIV infection

Acute HIV infection is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a virus that gradually destroys the immune system.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Primary or acute HIV infection occurs 2 – 4 weeks after infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The virus is spread by:


Note: At the time of diagnosis with HIV, many people have not experienced any symptoms.

Signs and tests

test is usually negative or undetermined during the acute infection and will become positive over the next 3 months.


People with HIV infection need to be educated about the disease and its treatment so they can be active partners in making decisions with their health care provider.

Expectations (prognosis)

There is no cure for HIV infection or AIDS. However, appropriate treatment can dramatically improve the length and quality of life for persons infected with HIV, and can delay the onset of AIDS.


David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 12/1/2009

Primary HIV infection
Immune system structures

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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