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After a risk

Deze info in het Nederlands.

Ces infos en français.


Did you fuck without a condom? Did the condom break or slip off? Take immediate action if you have run a risk of contracting HIV. There is a treatment that has to be taken within 72 hours after exposure. It reduces the chance of becoming HIV positive. Get tested if you had a risk more than 72 hours ago. If you are positive, you can start treatment. This is good for your own long-term health.

Within 72 hours: PEP?

Post-Exposure Profylaxis is a short-term treatment to reduce the likelihood of HIV infection after potential exposure. The sooner you start the treatment, the better chance of it working. Contact an Hiv Reference Centre or the emergency service of a university hospital (information in Dutch). Tell them that you may have been exposed to HIV. The doctor will assess your risk:

  • With whom did you have sex?  Do you know him?
  • Do you know if he is HIV positive?
  • Does he take HIV medication?
  • What is his viral load?

Based on the risk assessment, the doctor will or will not prescribe PEP. The treatment lasts 1 month and will be reimbursed by health insurance.

Within 1 month: HIV blood test

Some people experience no symptoms after infection with HIV. 2 out of 3 people are feeling symptoms 2 to 4 weeks after infection. These symptoms can both be weak or heavy. The symptoms are similar to the common cold or flu:

  • fever
  • joint pain
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • swollen glands in neck and/or groin
  • rash
  • sore throat
  • diarrhoea
  • night sweats

Whether you have symptoms or not, get tested:

  • 3 to 4 weeks after a possible exposure, it is likely that HIV can be detected by a blood test.
  • Go to your family doctor or a test center. Tell the doctor you are worried and you want to get tested.
  • At your family doctor you'll receive the result after 2 to 7 days. In a test center you can choose for a rapid test. In this case you'll receive the result within 1 hour.

How to cope with a positive test?

The sooner you are diagnosed, the better your chances of staying healthy and living a normal life span. Having a relationship, having sex, buying a house, going on vacation… It all remains possible.