Symptoms of primary HIV infection, including fever, rash, and headache, are nonspecific and are often described as flu-like. COVID-19 vaccination side effects, such as fever, which occur in up to 10% of people following COVID-19 vaccination, can make the diagnosis of acute HIV infection even more challenging.
A 26-year-old man presented with fever and headache following COVID-19 vaccination. The symptoms were initially thought to be vaccine side effects. A diagnostic workup was conducted due to persisting fever and headache > 72 hours following vaccination, and he was diagnosed with Fiebig stage II acute HIV infection, 3 weeks after having unprotected anal intercourse with another man.
Thorough anamnesis is key to estimating the individual risk of primary HIV infection, in patients presenting with flu-like symptoms. Early diagnosis and initiation of antiretroviral therapy is associated with better prognosis and limits transmission of the disease.