HIV is a virus that gradually weakens the human immune system. The early symptoms of HIV can vary among individuals but may include night sweats.

HIV is a virus that negatively affects the human immune system. Around 38.4 million people are living with HIV worldwide — in the United States alone, there are about 1.2 million individuals with the virus. A person can acquire HIV through different bodily fluids. The virus can transmit through sexual intercourse, contaminated needles, or from parent to child during pregnancy.

Without treatment, it can progress over time through different stages. As the virus begins to weaken the immune system, a person may notice a range of symptoms. In the early stages of infection, this can include night sweats.

In this article, we will discuss why a person may experience night sweats during the early stages of HIV infection. We will also discuss other HIV symptoms and treatment options.

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After HIV infection, individuals with this virus may exhibit flu-like symptoms. These typically occur about 2–4 weeks following HIV infection. Around two-thirds of people with HIV experience these symptoms. Although they can vary between individuals, early symptoms typically include:

  • night sweats
  • a sore throat
  • tiredness
  • swelling of the lymph nodes
  • a fever
  • a rash
  • chills
  • muscle aches
  • ulcers in the mouth

These symptoms occur as the body recognizes and begins to fight the virus.

Click here to learn more about the early signs and symptoms of HIV.

Other causes of night sweats

Night sweats may also occur for other reasons. For example, eating spicy foods or drinking hot drinks before bed could cause nighttime sweating. Exercising right before bed or sleeping in a hot room may also result in night sweats.

Other health conditions might also lead to night sweats. These could include:

  • anxiety
  • low blood sugar
  • certain forms of cancer
  • menopause
  • other viruses or bacterial infections

Many different factors can cause night sweats. Anyone experiencing them can consult with a medical professional to learn more.

Individuals with HIV may experience both fever and night sweats. These are both signs that the body is trying to fight the virus.

When the body starts to fight an infection, it may elevate in temperature. At a higher temperature, certain viruses and bacteria may struggle to survive. Fevers and night sweats in the early stages of HIV may be the body’s efforts to kill the invading virus.

In addition to HIV, other infections can also cause night sweats. For example, both the Epstein-Barr virus and tuberculosis can lead to night sweats.

Night sweats typically occur within the first 2–4 weeks following HIV infection. This is the first stage of the infection, also known as the acute stage.

During acute HIV infection, the virus multiplies and spreads to different parts of the body. The virus targets certain immune cells and kills them.

In the acute stage of HIV, people often experience flu-like symptoms. During this time, their blood contains a large quantity of the virus. Individuals with HIV are especially contagious in the acute phase.

Other people with HIV may not have any symptoms during the acute phase. Symptoms may not develop until the later phases of this infection.

Later stages of HIV

The two stages following the acute phase of HIV include chronic HIV infection and AIDS. During chronic HIV infection, the virus continues to multiply in the body. However, this happens at much lower levels than during the acute phase.

Some people with HIV stay in the chronic phase for 10–15 years. They may not show any signs or symptoms of HIV infection. However, HIV can progress faster or slower, depending on the person.

If people with HIV do not receive treatment, they can progress to having AIDS. This final stage of HIV infection can lead to unintended weight loss, diarrhea, pneumonia, and exhaustion. Without treatment, AIDS will ultimately become life threatening. However, current HIV treatments can help prevent HIV from developing into AIDS.

People living with HIV can manage their condition with antiretroviral therapy (ART). This treatment involves taking different medications to control HIV.

Individuals may take multiple pills per day while on ART. They may also be eligible for long lasting injections or once-daily pills.

These pills work by keeping HIV from multiplying within the body, decreasing the number of viral particles in the body. This makes it easier for the immune system to function properly.

Individuals taking ART for HIV also decrease their risk of spreading HIV. Because ART reduces the amount of HIV in the body, it reduces the likelihood of transmitting the virus. The amount of HIV can become undetectable, making it nearly impossible to spread through sexual intercourse.

Although treatment can ultimately manage HIV symptoms, people dealing with night sweats may need immediate relief.

Keeping a fan on and windows open at night increases airflow, which may help manage night sweating. Wearing loose cotton clothing can also help keep a person’s body temperature as low as possible.

Avoiding hot or spicy foods before bed can also improve night sweat symptoms. Relaxation techniques, such as meditation and breathing exercises, may decrease the severity of nighttime sweating.

Anyone experiencing new or worsening night sweating can contact a doctor. While night sweats may be nothing to worry about, they may also indicate an underlying health condition. A doctor can determine the cause of night sweats and prescribe an effective treatment plan.

HIV is a serious virus that can compromise the human immune system. People living with HIV may experience certain symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, or night sweats.

These flu-like symptoms typically occur within the first month after HIV infection. Individuals experiencing HIV symptoms can consult a doctor for an HIV test.

Current HIV treatment options can prevent the infection from developing into AIDS. With prompt treatment, a person with HIV can manage their viral load and lead a full and typical life.