HIV & Stomach Symptoms

The human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is a viral infection that was first identified in the early 1980s. After initial exposure to HIV, people can develop symptoms within two to four weeks, Mayo Clinic reports 3. Though HIV symptoms can develop throughout the body, stomach symptoms may be of particular discomfort to people infected with this virus 34.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


One of the hallmark symptoms of HIV is chronic diarrhea, the University of California San Francisco Medical Center says 234. Diarrhea is a stomach symptom that results in frequent bowel movements that produces loose, watery stools. Abdominal pain, cramping or bloating may also accompany diarrhea symptoms in certain people with this virus. Chronic diarrhea increases the amount of water a person's body loses, which can elevate the risk of dehydration. People who experience chronic diarrhea or symptoms of dehydration, such as a persistent headache or dizziness, should contact a doctor for further evaluation and care.

Nausea or Vomiting

Certain people with HIV can develop nausea or vomiting as stomach symptom of this virus, PDRhealth reports 3. Sensations of nausea, or recurrent episodes of vomiting, can contribute to appetite loss or weight loss in affected people. Nausea and vomiting typically arise during the early stage of HIV infection and may subside within a few weeks of onset 4.

Additional Symptoms

Additional symptoms of HIV infection can include:

  • sore throat
  • fever
  • swollen lymph glands
  • fatigue
  • body aches
  • headache
  • skin rash
  • shortness of breath or cough
  • according to 134

These symptoms arise due to poor immune system functioning in people with HIV 3. As HIV advances, these flu-like symptoms can become progressively more severe 3. Approximately 10 years after initial exposure to this virus, people can develop symptoms of the advanced form of HIV, called AIDS 134.