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when does hiv cough start

By: Ana Mixon

July 1, 2023

When Does HIV Cough Start?

If you’ve been dealing with a persistent dry cough, you probably think it’s just a cold, not HIV. But a dry cough is just one of many signs that you could be infected with HIV. While colds are more common than HIV, if you’ve had sexual contact with someone who might be infected, there’s a chance you may have contracted HIV as well.

When does HIV cough start if you’ve been infected? About 40% to 90% of infected people develop flu-like symptoms, including a cough, within two to four weeks of infection. But a cough could mean you’re in the later stages of the disease, too.

Understanding HIV Symptoms, Transmission, and Risk Factors

HIV is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus from which it gets its name. If left untreated, it develops into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), the most advanced stage of HIV infection.

HIV destroys infection-fighting CD4 cells, making it hard for the body to fight other infections and diseases like cancer. There is no cure for HIV, but thanks to antiretroviral therapy (ART), infected people can live much longer than they were once able to.

Early Signs of HIV

In the early stages of HIV, many people don’t notice any symptoms at all. Those who do may feel like they’re coming down with the flu due to their body’s inflammatory response. STDs and night sweats go hand-in-hand, too. If you’re infected, you may wake up in the middle of the night with chills and soaked sheets.

Your muscles may ache, and you might notice swollen lymph nodes in your armpits and neck. In the early stages, HIV can cause a fever above 100.4 degrees.

You might lose your appetite or feel too nauseous to eat. Vomiting and diarrhea are also common. Your throat may feel sore, making it tough to swallow.

Some people also develop a strange skin rash on their upper chest, face, or neck. The flu doesn’t usually cause rashes, so if you have one alongside the other persistent symptoms mentioned above, order a 10-panel STD test from Rapid STD Testing to determine whether you have HIV.


HIV typically spreads by having vaginal or anal sex with an infected person. This opportunistic infection can spread through semen, blood, breast milk, rectal fluids, and vaginal fluids. It’s also possible to get HIV if you share needles with someone who’s infected.

Risk Factors

HIV can infect anyone regardless of race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. It doesn’t matter if you’re poor or rich, as attested by the number of celebrities with HIV.

Risk factors include:

  • Men who have sex with men
  • People who have sex without condoms
  • People who have sex with a large number of partners
  • People who share drug needles with others

How HIV Affects the Respiratory System

Early-stage HIV may lead to persistent coughing because it prevents your body from fighting other infections. A persistent dry cough could also indicate you’re in the later stages of HIV.

When does HIV cough start? You may develop a cough within two to four weeks of contracting HIV. 

Without treatment, infected people often develop pneumonia, which causes respiratory symptoms such as coughing and trouble breathing. It can also cause fever, fatigue, and a loss of appetite.

People with HIV are prone to viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections that can cause a cough. Certain viruses and bacteria lead to staph infections, tuberculosis, and toxoplasmosis.

HIV can escalate to cancer, particularly in the later stages when the body’s immune system is seriously weakened. Cancer may cause coughing, trouble breathing, and chest pain.

Possible Causes of Dry Cough

Just because you have a dry cough doesn’t necessarily mean you have HIV. Many infections and diseases can cause a cough. Even something as simple as breathing in too much cold air can make you cough for a while because frigid temperatures irritate the lungs.

A cough could also indicate a sinus infection. With a sinus infection, you may have a runny or stuffy nose, a sore throat, headaches, and pressure or pain in your face. You might also struggle with bad breath or mucus dripping down your throat (post-nasal drip).

A dry cough is a common asthma symptom, especially when laughing or exercising. People with asthma often have a cough that worsens at night. They may also wheeze, have trouble breathing, and feel a tightness in their chest.

Acid reflux is yet another condition that can cause a cough. If you suffer from acid reflux, you might have upper abdominal pain, heartburn, trouble swallowing, and a feeling of something caught in your throat.

Diagnosis of HIV Cough

If you have a cough that won’t go away, see your doctor to rule out any other health conditions that could be causing it. If your doctor rules out other common conditions that cause coughing, you may have HIV.

Your doctor may perform a nucleic acid test (NAT) to look for the virus in your blood, especially if you’re in the seroconversion period of HIV. They may also want to do an antibody test, which checks for the virus in blood and saliva. These tests can take up to 90 days to detect HIV after exposure.

If you’d rather skip a visit to the doctor, you may order a rapid STD test online to ensure total privacy, as some people worry about the stigma attached to even bringing up a concern about HIV.

Receiving Treatment for HIV

If your doctor confirms you have HIV, it’s not the end of the world. Thanks to advances in medicine, HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was. With prompt treatment, living a full and healthy life for many years is possible.

It’s important to start treatment for HIV right away, even if you feel fine right now. Left unchecked, the virus could make you very sick or even escalate to AIDS. Going without treatment also exposes your sexual partners to the virus, which means they could get infected (especially if you have sex without condoms).

What To Expect From HIV Treatment

To treat HIV, your doctor will prescribe you antiretroviral therapy (ART) drugs. If you’re just starting HIV treatment, your doctor will probably give you a single-dose or combination pill.

If you’ve been suppressing the virus with pills for at least three months, your doctor may also consider administering ART injections. You’ll need to get a shot either once per month or once every other month.

ART treatment can reduce your viral load so much that tests may not even be able to detect it. That means you have a greatly reduced risk of transmitting HIV to anyone else through sex, needles, or breast milk.

However, taking every dose of your medication as prescribed is important. Missing even a few doses can cause the virus to develop drug resistance, which could allow it to mutate and make you sicker. If the virus becomes resistant to drugs, you’ll have fewer options for treatment.

Be aware that treatment can cause side effects in some people. These include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Rash
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Pain at the injection site (if you’re getting shots)

Concerned About a Cough? Order Discreet HIV Testing Today

Now that you know the answer to “When does HIV cough start?” you may wonder whether you’ve been infected with HIV. Rapid STD Testing offers fast and convenient same-day STD testing that you can order from home for your peace of mind. Order your test now or call (866) 872-1888 to learn more.


Get Tested for STDs and HIV Privately and Conveniently

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By: Ana Mixon
July 1, 2023

Ana Mixon is an accomplished and knowledgeable medical writer who excels at conveying intricate medical information in a concise and understandable way. With a strong foundation in internal medicine, Ana possesses an in-depth comprehension of cutting-edge research and advancements in the healthcare sector. Her passion lies in making complex medical concepts accessible to a wide range of readers.

With years of experience under her belt, Ana has honed her skills in medical writing to perfection. She consistently produces high-quality content that is both informative and engaging, ensuring that readers can grasp even the most intricate details with ease. Her dedication to the craft is evident in her unwavering commitment to staying abreast of the latest developments in medical writing. Ana actively participates in conferences and workshops, constantly seeking opportunities to enhance her skill set and remain at the forefront of her field.