5. Skin rash

Skin rashes can occur early or late in the course of HIV/AIDS.

For Ron, this was another sign that he might not have run-of-the-mill allergies or a cold.

“They were like boils, with some itchy pink areas on my arms,” Ron says. The rashes can also appear on the trunk of the body. “If [the rashes] aren’t easily explained or easily treated, you should think about having an HIV test,” Dr. Horberg says.

6. Dry cough

A dry cough was the first sign Ron had that something was wrong. He at first dismissed it as bad allergies.

But it went on for a year and a half—and kept getting worse. Benadryl, antibiotics, and inhalers didn’t fix the problem. Neither did allergists.

This symptom—an “insidious cough that could be going on for weeks that doesn’t seem to resolve,” Dr. Malvestutto says—is typical in very ill HIV patients.