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Frequently Asked Questions

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HIV is a virus that attacks a person’s immune system. A weakened immune system means that other viruses and bacteria have a greater chance to make the person ill. The virus is in the blood, sperm and pre-ejaculate, vaginal fluids and breast milk. The only way to determine whether you have HIV is to take an HIV test. HIV can be treated, the sooner the better. It is never too late to get tested. Without medical treatment, the person will ultimately develop AIDS. AIDS can result in death.

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV can be treated effectively. AIDS develops when the immune system has become so weakened that it can no longer protect the body against viruses and bacteria that would normally not be a problem. AIDS is a serious disease that can be fatal.

You can get HIV by having sex without a condom. Anal sex involves a greater risk. Oral sex poses a minor risk. If the mucous membranes are damaged due to, for example, a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or medical procedures, there is a greater risk of transmitting the virus.

You can also get HIV through contact with infected blood. This could be the result of drug use, infected needles or a blood transfusion in a country other than the Netherlands. Pregnant women can pass HIV on to their infants.

HIV is NOT transmitted by air or water, insects, saliva, tears, sweat, kissing, shaking hands or using the same cutlery or toilet.

A sexually transmitted infection (STI) increases the risk of HIV infection. And someone who has HIV and another STI is more likely to infect others with HIV. For example, syphilis increases the risk of HIV infection. You can take a reliable STI test at the STI clinic (GGD) or your GP.

You cannot tell that a person has HIV just by looking at him or her. The only way to determine whether a person has HIV is by administering an HIV test. There are, however, a number of symptoms that could indicate an HIV infection. A few weeks after getting an HIV infection, the person may experience flu-like symptoms. These symptoms usually disappear on their own. You can find more information at hebikhiv.nl.

Without medication, HIV weakens the immune system over time, resulting in symptoms that eventually lead to an AIDS diagnosis. How fast this happens and which symptoms occur differs from person to person.

Even if you do not notice any symptoms of HIV infection right away, you can still infect others with HIV.

If you may have been exposed to HIV, you can be tested. Go to ‘Testing for HIV’ for more information.

Note: If there is a real risk that you have been exposed to HIV within the past 72 hours, for example by having unsafe sex with an HIV-positive partner or by being stuck by a needle that was contaminated with the HIV virus, you may be able to get a PEP treatment. PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis and involves taking a course of HIV-inhibiting medication to prevent possible HIV infection. In most cases, PEP treatment makes it possible to prevent HIV infection. It is important to start the medication as soon as possible, and definitely within 72 hours after possible exposure. See also: ‘Where can I get PEP treatment?’.

PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis and involves taking a course of HIV-inhibiting medication to prevent HIV infection. PEP is prescribed in high-risk situations, when it is very likely that a person has been exposed to HIV. It is important to start PEP treatment as soon as possible, and definitely within 72, but preferably within a few hours after the possible infection (the time when the virus entered the body). A PEP treatment takes four weeks and often has side effects. In most cases, PEP makes it possible to prevent HIV infection. See also ‘Am I eligible for PEP?’ and ‘Where can I get PEP treatment?’

PEP is not prescribed in all cases of possible HIV exposure. A doctor at a location where PEP is provided will assess your risk of HIV infection and decide whether or not you are eligible for PEP. The side effects of PEP treatment have to be weighed against the risk of HIV infection. If the doctor assesses that there is a real risk of HIV infection, and the risk event was less than 72 hours ago, you will receive PEP treatment. See also ‘Where can I get PEP treatment?’.

PEP is not offered in all areas of the Netherlands. Contact your GP or the STI clinic in your region to see where you can receive treatment. For assistance after office hours and on the weekend, please call the Accident & Emergency department of your local hospital. Do call ahead, as not every hospital offers PEP. For a list of hospitals that have HIV treatment centres, see: HIV treatment centres).

Please be aware that you may have to wait a while before you are able to speak to the doctor in charge of administering PEP. Tell the doctor exactly what happened. If possible, bring along the partner with whom you were exposed.

Don’t wait too long! PEP is only effective if you start medication within 72 hours after exposure. The sooner you start, the more likely it is that you won’t become infected with HIV.

An HIV test doesn’t detect the HIV virus itself, but rather the antibodies to HIV. When a person has been infected with HIV, the human immune system produces antibodies in response to the virus.

When an HIV test detects these antibodies, the test is ‘HIV positive’. This means that there may be an HIV infection present. A follow-up test will be needed to confirm it.

If the test does not detect any antibodies, the test is ‘HIV negative’. This means that there is no HIV infection present, or that the HIV infection occurred recently. In the early stage of an HIV infection, the body has not yet produced enough antibodies for them to be detected by an HIV test. This period lasts about three months and is known as the ‘window period’. It is important to be tested again three months after the last exposure to HIV, and not be at risk for between the two tests.

Many people who are infected with HIV are not aware of their infection. Some of them only discover they have HIV when they are very ill and have developed AIDS. When HIV is diagnosed late, vital treatment and care time has been lost. Even so, it is never too late to be tested.

Getting tested for HIV allows you to take good care of your own health and that of others. If you have HIV and are aware of it, you can take steps to prevent others from becoming infected. Everyone is responsible for taking care of his or her own health and that of others, especially of his/her sexual partner(s).

There are always advantages, regardless of the test result:

• If the test shows that you do not have HIV (HIV negative), it is reassuring news. Then, you can take steps to have safe sex and remain HIV negative.

• If the test shows that you do have HIV (HIV positive), you can receive the care and treatment you need. HIV infection does not mean that you have or will develop AIDS and die of the infection. Although there is no cure for HIV or AIDS yet, there are effective medicines available that suppress the HIV virus enough to keep the immune system intact. These medicines are known as HIV inhibitors. There are major advantages to starting to take HIV inhibitors as soon as possible: You prevent the HIV virus from damaging your immune system, and you are much less likely to pass HIV on to someone else.

When a person has been infected with HIV, the human immune system produces antibodies in response to the infection. The HIV test responds to the presence of these antibodies. In the first three months after infection, it is possible for antibody levels to be too low to be detected by the HIV test. In that case, the HIV test will incorrectly show that that person is not infected with HIV.

Please note: The HIV virus is most contagious during this window period, making it easier to pass HIV on to other people!

Example: Robert takes an HIV self-test today. The test shows that he does not have HIV. This means that Robert had not been infected with HIV until up to three months ago. If the test shows that he does not have HIV, it would still be possible for Robert to have been infected with HIV in the past three months.

If Robert had unsafe sexual contact with someone yesterday and was infected with HIV then, the test will not show it yet. If Robert is tested for HIV again three months from now, the test will show that he has HIV.

You just received a reliable HIV self-test that you can do yourself at home. You can also get an HIV test at:

The STI clinic or GP

Besides being tested for HIV, you can also be tested for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Your health insurance will cover HIV and STI tests through your GP, but only after your deductible has been met. The tests at the STI clinic are free.

www.mantotman.nl

The test lab run by mantotman.nl offers a total STI/HIV test package for men who have sex with men in and around Amsterdam, Rotterdam-Rijnmond, The Hague, Delft and Zoetermeer. You can get yourself tested for free at a laboratory near you.

If you are at risk of HIV infection through sexual transmission, you should preferably be tested for other STIs as well, since you are also at risk of contracting other diseases. Other STIs are far more common than HIV infection.

That depends on the STI test and your health insurance. STI testing is generally covered by your basic health insurance. Your standard deductible does need to be taken into account. Want to be sure what it will cost you? Please contact your GP and health insurer ahead of time. An STI test at an STI clinic at the Public Health Service (GGD) is often free.

Before the test is done, you will receive information about STI and HIV tests. The doctor or nurse will talk to you about whether or not you are or were at risk. You can ask questions and discuss your doubts or fears.

A blood sample will be taken. It will be tested for HIV antibodies in the laboratory. The results are usually available after a few days. Most locations have rapid testing options, so you can wait for your test results and get them the same day. When you get the test results, you also receive information.

If HIV is confirmed, you will be referred for appropriate care. Frequently, you will be consulted to see whether your partner(s) can be notified.

No. A GP or specialist does not automatically request an HIV test when blood tests are run. This means that even if you have had other blood tests before, you were not automatically tested for HIV. If you have had blood tests before and the results were good, check whether you were also tested for HIV. If not, you have not been tested for HIV yet.

Yes. An HIV test is always possible. It does not affect an application for residency or asylum. If you turned out to be HIV-positive, treatment is still possible without health insurance. Everyone in the Netherlands has a right to receive medical care. Every doctor and nurse is required to provide medical care, regardless of whether a person is insured or has money to pay for it. If a person is not insured, the options will be assessed to see how much he or she can contribute to the costs of treatment.

People who do not have a residency permit cannot acquire health insurance. If they need HIV medication or have recently been diagnosed with HIV, they can have a doctor refer them to a hospital. They can appeal to various assistance programs to receive HIV care. The HIV counsellor in the hospital can offer more information.

No HIV (HIV negative):

This is good news: no HIV antibodies were detected. You probably do not have HIV. As in any test, there is a chance that the result is incorrect. To minimise this chance, it is important to take the test according to the instructions, and to make sure that you have not been exposed to HIV within the last three months. See also ‘What is the window period?’.

HIV (HIV positive):

This means that there may be an HIV infection present. You need to take a follow-up test at the STI clinic (GGD), your GP, or a hospital. If the follow-up test confirms that you are infected with HIV, it is important to know that there are effective treatment options available that will allow you to continue leading a normal life.

The OraQuick In-home HIV test is not a saliva test. It uses oral fluid, which is slightly different from saliva. Oral fluid, collected from the gumline, contains antibodies. Antibodies are proteins produced by the body's immune (defense) system to fight infection. If there are antibodies to HIV, it indicates that the person has been infected with HIV.

An HIV antibody test detects the cells that the body's immune (defense) system creates in response to HIV infection. When HIV enters the body, the body starts to produce antibodies. In the case of HIV, the antibodies can't fight off the infection. But, their presence can be used to tell whether a person is HIV infected. Most HIV tests detect the presence of HIV antibodies, not the virus itself.

Do not use the OraQuick In-Home HIV test if you already know that you have tested positive for HIV. Please talk with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that is right for you.

Do not use the test kit if the current date is past the expiration date. Results from this test would not be considered an accurate indication of your HIV status.

Please get a new test through the person who gave you the test or have yourself tested at the STI clinic or GP.

If any of the materials in the OraQuick test kit are missing, damaged, or have evidence of being tampered with (for example, if any of the packets are open or damaged), you should not use the kit. Results from this test would not be considered an accurate indication of your HIV status. Please discard the test kit. Please dispose of the test by closing the package and placing it in the disposal bag that is provided. You can dispose of the bag with your regular garbage; no extra precautions are necessary.

Please get a new test through the person who gave you the test or have yourself tested at the STI clinic or GP.

The OraQuick In-Home HIV test is intended for use by individuals' ages 18 and older. It is not for use in children under 18 years of age. If your child is younger than 18 years of age, and you are concerned that your child has HIV, talk with your child's doctor. He or she can help determine if your child is infected.

Your test kit should be stored at a temperature from 2 to 30 degrees Celsius, or 36 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The test kit should be stored in a dry place, avoiding direct sunlight and any excessively hot or cold conditions.

The OraQuick In-Home HIV test should be stored at a temperature of 2 to 30 degrees Celsius (or 36 degrees to 86 degrees Fahrenheit). If the test was stored for any extended period of time (3 hours or more) in an excessively hot (30 degrees Celsius / 86 degrees Fahrenheit and above) or cold (2 degrees Celsius / 36 degrees Fahrenheit or below) environment, the OraQuick In-Home HIV test should not be used. Please dispose of the used test by closing the package and placing it in the disposal bag that is provided. You can dispose of the bag with your regular garbage, no extra precautions are necessary.

Please get a new test through the person who gave you the test or have yourself tested at the STI clinic or GP.

If there was no fluid in the test tube when you opened the kit, the kit is defective. We apologize for this inconvenience. Please discard the test kit. Please dispose of the test by closing the package and placing it in the disposal bag that is provided. You can dispose of the bag with your regular garbage; no extra precautions are necessary.

Please get a new test through the person who gave you the test or have yourself tested at the STI clinic or GP.

If you ate or drank anything more than (longer than) 30 minutes before you swabbed your gums, and if you correctly followed all the directions in the test instructions booklet or website, the results of your test will be accurate.

If you ate or drank anything less than 30 minutes before you swabbed your gums, you cannot rely on the test result and will need to repeat the test procedure with a new kit, and carefully follow all handling and testing instructions. Please get a new test through the person who gave you the test or have yourself tested at the STI clinic or GP.

If you brushed your teeth more than (longer than) 30 minutes before you swabbed your gums, and if you correctly followed all the directions in the test instructions booklet or website, the results of your test will be accurate.

If you brushed your teeth less than 30 minutes before you swabbed your gums, you cannot rely on the test result and will need to repeat the test procedure with a new kit being careful to follow all handling and testing instructions carefully. Please get a new test through the person who gave you the test or have yourself tested at the STI clinic or GP.

Please dispose of the used test by closing the package and placing it in the disposal bag that is provided. Leave the test stick in the test tube and dispose of the entire package. You can dispose of the bag with your regular garbage; no extra precautions are necessary.

If you removed the test stick, or it fell out, at any point after you placed it in the test tube, the result of the test is not valid even if you immediately replaced the test stick. The test stick must remain in the test tube for at least 20 minutes as shown in the instructions. Therefore, do not consider your result an accurate indication of your HIV status.

Please dispose of the used test by closing the package and placing it in the disposal bag that is provided. You can dispose of the bag with your regular garbage; no extra precautions are necessary. Please repeat the OraQuick testing procedure with a new test, and carefully follow all the handling and testing instructions.

Please get a new test through the person who gave you the test or have yourself tested at the STI clinic or GP.

If any substance other than the samples from swiping your gums touches any of the test stick pad or test tube fluid as you are taking the test, your results will not be valid.

Substances that will render the result unreliable include: food, water and other liquids including alcoholic beverages, and chapstick/lipstick.

If you accidentally dropped the test stick and it touched the sink, toilet, floor, table, countertop, or anything other than your gums, you should not rely on the test result.

Please get a new test through the person who gave you the test or have yourself tested at the STI clinic or GP.

If you read the test more than 40 minutes after the test stick was placed in the vial, the result of the test is not valid. Do not consider the result an indication of your HIV status.

Please dispose of the used test by closing the package and placing it in the disposal bag that is provided in the lower compartment of the test kit. You can dispose of the bag with your regular garbage; no extra precautions are necessary. This bag will help protect your privacy so you can throw it away in any trash can.

Please repeat the OraQuick testing procedure with a new test kit and carefully follow all the handling and testing instructions. Place test stick in the test tube for no less than 20 minutes and no more than 40 minutes before you read the test.

Please get a new test through the person who gave you the test or have yourself tested at the STI clinic or GP.

No. The OraQuick In-home HIV test kit is intended to be used only once. If you used or tampered with the test stick or test tube before starting your test, or if you used the test parts to take more than one test, your test results will not be accurate.

If you got a small amount of blood on the test stick from swabbing your gums, your result will still be accurate. Blood is not considered a foreign substance. Small amounts of blood will not interfere with the test performance or prevent you from obtaining an accurate test result.

However, if you used blood or any other body fluid (such as urine or semen) as a sample in place of oral fluid, you should not rely on this test for an accurate result of your HIV status.

When you run the test, you can tell it is working if you see a line next to the letter "C" on the test stick. If you see a line, your test results will be accurate. If you do not see a line next to the letter "C," the test is not working properly and you will need to get a new test. Please get a new test through the person who gave you the test or have yourself tested at the STI clinic or GP.

If any substance other than the samples from swiping your gums touches any of the test stick pad or test tube fluid as you are taking the test, your results will not be valid.

Substances that will render the result unreliable include: food, water and other liquids including alcoholic beverages or chapstick/lipstick.

If you accidentally dropped the test stick and it touched the sink, toilet, floor, table, countertop, or anything other than your gums, you should not rely on the test result. You need to get a new test. Please get a new test through the person who gave you the test or have yourself tested at the STI clinic or GP.

If you are not sure whether you swabbed your gums correctly, check for a line next to the letter "C" on the test stick.

If a line appears next to the letter "C" on the test stick, you will know your test is working and your results will be accurate. This will occur if you have followed the instructions carefully and you have waited at least 20 minutes but maximum 40 minutes, after placing the test stick in the test tube.

If you do not see a line next to the letter "C," the test is not working properly, and you will need to get a new test. Please get a new test through the person who gave you the test or have yourself tested at the STI clinic or GP.

If the test stick came in contact with the test tube liquid at any time before you swabbed your gums, the test results will not be accurate. Therefore, do not consider your results as a valid indication of your HIV status. You will need to get a new test.

Please get a new test through the person who gave you the test or have yourself tested at the STI clinic or GP.

It is safe to use the OraQuick In-Home HIV test if you wear braces or a retainer.

Once you swab your gums with the test stick, you have 30 minutes to place the test stick in the test tube.

If you do this, and follow all the directions, your results should be accurate.

If you wait more than 30 minutes after you swab your gums to place the test stick in the test tube, the test results will not be accurate. Therefore, do not consider your results as a valid indication of your HIV status.You need to get a new test. Please get a new test through the person who gave you the test or have yourself tested at the STI clinic or GP.

You must have liquid in the vial to run the test and get an accurate result. If there is liquid, you may continue following the directions carefully. When you run the test, you can tell it is working if a line appears next to the letter "C" on the test stick. If you see a line, your test results will be valid.

If you do not see a line next to the "C", the test is not working properly. In order for a test to work, a line must appear by the area marked "C." Therefore, do not consider the result you got as a valid indication of your HIV status.You need to get a new test. Please get a new test through the person who gave you the test or have yourself tested at the STI clinic or GP.

The letter "C" on the test stick stands for "control." A line should appear next to the letter "C" if you have followed the instructions carefully and have waited 20 minutes after placing your test stick in the test tube. This line means that your test is working. If NO line appears next to the letter "C," it means your test is not working and you will need to get a new test.

The letter "T" on the test stick stands for "test." A line next to the letter "T," even if the line is faint, and a line next to the letter "C", means that you have a positive test result and you may have HIV. You will need a second test to confirm your test result. A "T' line, even if the line is faint, and no "C" line means the test is not working and you will need to get a new test.

If you have a preliminary positive result, you will need a second test to confirm your test result. Please visit your doctor or local clinic to obtain a follow up test in a medical setting. A doctor, clinic or healthcare professional must confirm your OraQuick® In-Home HIV Test result.

Once you open the test stick pouch, you will need to perform the test within 30 minutes. Please leave the test stick in the pouch until you are ready to perform the test.

The small pouch inside the test stick package is designed to prevent moisture from affecting the test stick during storage. It is not to be used when performing the OraQuick test, and you may discard it in the regular trash.

To date, there is no evidence that the use of antibiotics or medication (other than antiretrovirals) may affect the test results. Please proceed with performing the test as instructed.

If you have dentures that cover your gums, there are steps you should take prior to testing. You should:

1. Remove the dentures.

2. Wash any remaining paste off of the gums.

3. Wait 30 minutes.

4. Perform the test according to the instructions.

If your test has a line next to the letter 'T', but no line next to the letter 'C', this means that your test did not work. In order for a test to work, a line must appear by the area marked 'C'. Therefore, do not consider the result you got as a valid indication of your HIV status.

Please get a new test through the person who gave you the test or have yourself tested at the STI clinic or GP.

You will know the test is working if you see a line next to the letter "C" on the test stick. This will occur if you have followed the instructions carefully and you have waited at least 20 minutes after placing the test stick in the test tube. If there is no line by the letter "C" on the test stick, the test is defective. Then you need a new test.

Please get a new test through the person who gave you the test or have yourself tested at the STI clinic or GP.

You will know that your test is not working if the results on your test stick do not look like any of the example results found in the instructions booklet or at the website. Your test is considered invalid if:

• There is no line next to the letter "C" on the test stick;

• There are no lines anywhere on the test stick; or

• Your test stick remains pink after 20 minutes.

If your test did not work properly, or you remain unsure, please get a new test. Please get a new test through the person who gave you the test or have yourself tested at the STI clinic or GP.

If your test result shows a line next to the letter "C" and any line next to the letter "T," you have a HIV positive test result. This result indicates that there is a possibility that you could be infected with HIV. However, the intensity of the lines on the test stick does not correlate with the stage of the HIV disease or infection potential. So, a darker line next to the letter "T" does not mean that you are more positive. You will need a follow-up test to confirm your test result. Your oral fluid results need to be confirmed with results obtained by serum (blood) testing at an STI clinic, at your physician or a healthcare provider. Until your test result is confirmed, please take precautions to avoid any chance of spreading HIV.

Any line next to the letter "T" on the test stick, regardless of color or shade, means you have a HIV positive test result. You will need a second test to confirm your test result. Please visit the STI clinic, your physician or a healthcare provider to obtain a follow up test in a medical setting. A doctor, STI clinic or healthcare professional must confirm your OraQuick® In-Home HIV Test result. Until your test result is confirmed, please take precautions to avoid any chance of spreading HIV. In particular, you should avoid all unprotected sexual activities until you know your HIV status.

Effective treatment is available that let you live a full life with HIV without developing AIDS. The life expectancy of people with HIV is close to the life expectancy of healthy people. Most people take one or two pills a day. These pills suppress the HIV virus. The medication still has some side effects, but they have become milder as medication has been improved.

There is no cure for an HIV infection. The virus cannot be eliminated from the body, but it is possible to inhibit the growth of the HIV virus by treating the person with medicines known as HIV inhibitors. See also ‘What are HIV inhibitors?’.

An HIV inhibitor is a medicine that blocks the growth of the HIV virus in the body. HIV replicates itself in the body in several steps that repeat over and over. The HIV inhibitors block various steps, preventing the HIV virus from continuing to replicate. There are over 20 HIV inhibitors available, but research on HIV inhibitors continues. Research is being done to discover new HIV inhibitors and figure out which combinations of current HIV inhibitors are most effective. Treatment options and the quality of treatment will continue to improve.

The aim of treatment with HIV inhibitors is to suppress the HIV virus so effectively that it becomes undetectable. This means that the HIV virus is still present in the body, but in such small quantities that it can no longer be measured. This is referred to as a very low viral load.

The advantages of an undetectable viral load are:

• low risk of illness related to HIV;

• low risk of other forms of illness, such as cardiovascular disease;

• a negligible risk of passing HIV on to others.

Everyone in the Netherlands has a right to receive medical care. Every doctor and nurse is required to provide medical care, regardless of whether a person is insured or has money to pay for it. If you are not insured, the options will be assessed to see how much you can contribute to the costs of treatment.

People who do not have a residency permit cannot arrange health insurance. If they need HIV medication or have recently been diagnosed with HIV, they can have a doctor refer them to a hospital. They can appeal to various assistance programs to receive HIV care. The HIV counsellor in the hospital can offer more information.

There are various HIV treatment centres in the Netherlands (see HIV treatment centres). Your GP or a doctor at the STI clinic (GGD) can refer you.

The life expectancy of people with HIV is increasingly approaching the life expectancy of the rest of the population. If you receive treatment and have no other health problems, you will be able to be a normal part of society. In the beginning, when you first find out that you have HIV, you will have to get used to the idea and everything associated with it. There will be a lot to deal with at once. HIV is an infection that still carries major stigmas in large parts of society.

Many people are afraid of people with HIV, rather than being afraid of HIV. Various organisations can offer information and support. (See also ‘Where can I go if I have questions about living with HIV?’.) After some time, more and more puzzle pieces will fall into place and you will find more peace and calm.

New questions may crop up as things change in your life or your health. Your treating physician or various other organisations can also help you then.

You will no doubt want to tell your loved ones about your HIV status. Receiving support is important. You are never required to tell someone about your HIV status. People around you are not at risk of HIV infection in normal day-to-day interaction. The choice to tell others is always yours.

The website 4mezelf.nl is a Dutch website for men who have sex with men who have just heard that they are HIV positive.

More information is also available at the HIV association Netherlands (hivvereniging.nl/), a patient support association. You can also call or email the HIV Association with your questions about living with HIV, or simply to find a listening ear. This helpline can be reached on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 14:00 - 22:00 on 020 689 25 77 or at any time by email: servicepunt@hivvereniging.nl.

The HIV Association Netherlands has developed a website that provides information for people with HIV and for health care professionals. The website offers a great deal of information about living with HIV, including: What makes you choose to tell someone about your HIV status (or not), and who do you tell? What are your views on sex and a relationship? The website also includes information about HIV treatment, the tests, and interactions between health care providers and patients, including medical confidentiality and physician-patient privilege. See positiefzorgt.nl for more information.

More information is also available on the websites of the Dutch AIDS Fund (aidsfonds.nl) and SOA AIDS Netherlands (soaaids.nl). The AIDS SOA Info Line also offers information or a listening ear. The telephone number is 0900-2042040 (€0.10/min). See sense.info for hours of operation and to contact them by email and chat.

The ShivA Foundation is an organisation for people dealing with HIV or AIDS. ShivA supports people living with HIV and develops activities centred around spirituality, HIV and AIDS. It is also possible to talk to someone from ShivA about living with HIV. See shiva-positief.nl for more information.

If you are on your own, you can apply for buddy care. Buddies are volunteers who help people with chronic illnesses break out of their isolation. See mezzo.nl/buddyzorg for more information.

You can talk to your GP or HIV counsellor about whether you would like to have professional care, such as home care and psychological counselling.