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HIV is an STI. It is passed on during sex, especially if you don’t use condoms. If you have HIV and are on treatment, you can live a normal, healthy life. The sooner you start treatment, the better for your health.

Difference between HIV and AIDS

HIV is a virus that always remains in your body but can be treated. If you don’t get treatment, then HIV can develop into AIDS. If you have AIDS, you will become ill and may die. AIDS is hardly seen any more in the Netherlands. Almost everyone in the Netherlands is on treatment.

Signs and symptoms of HIV

Soon after becoming infected with HIV, you may have flu-like symptoms. This is called acute HIV infection. Symptoms you may have are:

  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhoea
  • Skin rash (marks on your skin)

Usually symptoms appear 1 to 6 weeks after becoming infected with HIV. 
Some people don’t have symptoms. And the symptoms may go away and come back again later.

Testing for HIV

An HIV test tells you whether or not you have HIV. Have you taken any risks? Or do you have symptoms that might point to HIV? Then go to your doctor or a GGD health centre for an HIV test.

Not sure whether you need to have an STI test? If you answer a few questions, we can give you some advice.
Do the STI check

If you are at greater risk of HIV, then it’s advisable to be regularly tested. Or to talk to your doctor about whether you should take PrEP. This is a pill that makes sure you can’t get infected with HIV.

Read here about who is most at risk of HIV

Treatment for HIV

You can be treated for HIV. The treatment consists of antiretroviral drugs. If you take your pills the right way every day:

  • You will stay healthy
  • You won’t be able to pass HIV on to anyone else. Even if you don’t use condoms

It’s important to start treatment as soon as possible.

HIV testing during pregnancy

Women are always offered an HIV test during pregnancy. That’s because a pregnant woman with HIV can pass the virus on to her baby if she doesn’t get treatment. This can happen during the delivery or while breast feeding. HIV treatment prevents mothers passing HIV on to their babies. 


If someone is on effective HIV treatment, the amount of virus in their blood is reduced so much that it can no longer be detected. Then they cannot pass on the virus. That’s why people say: undetectable = untransmissible.