HIV is a virus that can be transmitted between humans. You get an HIV infection if you get infected by the virus. AIDS is a disease state that occurs when the immune system is so weakened by an HIV infection that you can get other diseases.

You can live as before and study, work, have sex, have a partner and have children even if you live with HIV. The big difference is that you have to take medication regularly for the rest of your life.

The medicines reduce the number of HIV viruses in the body to such low levels that they cannot be measured. It is called having a well-timed HIV treatment. A well-established HIV treatment means that an HIV infection is not an infectious deadly disease but a chronic disease that is not contagious.

Symptoms of HID and AIDS

The most common thing is not to get any symptoms when you get the virus. The amount of time it takes for you to feel the HIV infection varies from person to person, but it can take several years. During that time you usually feel as usual and do not notice any of the viruses. 

Early symptoms of HIV and AIDS

About two to three weeks after you become infected, you may get a so-called primary HIV infection. For example, you may have one or more of these symptoms of HIV and AIDS:

  • fever
  • sore throat
  • swollen, tender lymph nodes
  • diarrhea
  • muscle
  • headache
  • pale red, irregular rashes on the back and chest, sometimes also on the face, arms and legs.

The early symptoms disappear by themselves, usually within a few weeks.

The amount of time it takes for you to notice something more varies from person to person, but usually, it is for several years. During that time you usually feel as usual.

Late symptoms

The immune system is weakened if you have an HIV infection and do not take medication. After a prolonged period, usually several years, you may get the first signs that your immune system is weakening. It may be due to one or more of these symptoms:

  • tiredness
  • night sweats
  • shingles
  • milk dermatitis on the face
  • fungus in the mouth.

You can get tumors or severe infections with bacteria, fungi or parasites if the immune system becomes even more impaired. These types of infections are uncommon in people who have a healthy immune system. This is the condition known as AIDS.

With treatment, you can avoid getting AIDS. Therefore, it is important to test yourself if you think you may have been infected with HIV.

When and where should I seek care?

 If you suspect you may have contracted HIV, contact a  health care center a skin or gender clinic. You can contact many receptions by logging in.

The receptions may also be referred to as venereal, sex and cohabitation, STD or STI. You who are under 25 can usually contact a youth reception. Depending on where in the country you live, it may vary.

It is always free to test, on all receipts.

If it’s in a hurry

You can get temporary drug treatment if you know for sure that there is a risk that you may have become infected with HIV. For example, it could be if the condom broke when you had sex with someone who has HIV that is not treated. The treatment is called post-exposure prophylaxis but is usually called PEP only. 

Treatment must be started within 36 hours of the time when you think you may have been infected by the virus. PEP treatment lasts for four weeks. 

It is a doctor who determines if you can get PEP. You cannot get PEP because you have had unprotected sex with a person without knowing for sure that it is living with HIV.

Contact an infection clinic in a hospital. Contact an emergency ward if the infection ward is not open.

How can I reduce the risk of getting HIV?

There are various ways to protect yourself from getting infected with HIV viruses

  • Use a condom if you have slit, anal or oral sex with someone who has a penis.
  • Put a condom on sex toys you bring into your mouth, vagina or rectum if you use them with someone else.
  • Do not share syringes with other people. 

This is how HIV is transmitted

HIV is transmitted through blood, semen, secretions, and breast milk.

The risk of transmitting the virus is the greatest right at the beginning when someone has an HIV infection and has not received treatment yet, or is not taking their medication. Even if a person says they don’t have HIV, you can’t be completely sure, because they may not know about it yet. Therefore, always use a condom if you have a slit, anal or oral sex with people who have a penis. 

When you have sex, the risk is most likely to be transmitted to HIV if you get sperm with the virus in the vagina or rectum. The risk is greater if you have other STDs at the same time. 

In oral sex, the risk of transmission of the virus is much less than in the case of intercourse. The biggest risk in oral sex is if you get semen with the virus in your mouth. 

HIV can be transmitted through blood, for example, if you share syringes with others to inject drugs into the blood. 

A child can get HIV from his mother during pregnancy, at birth or through breast milk if the mother has HIV. However, the risk is very low if the mother receives HIV treatment. 

Living with someone who has HIV

There is no risk that you will get HIV by having sex with someone who has HIV and is receiving HIV treatment.

How is HIV not transmitted?

HIV is a sensitive virus and dies quickly outside the body. For example, you can’t pass it on by grabbing, hugging or kissing someone. HIV is also not spread by, for example, using the same towel or coffee mug as someone else. HIV is not spread through the air, food, water, insects or other animals. 

Blood and breast milk donations are always tested for HIV

Everyone who donates blood that is then used in health care is tested for HIV. So you can’t get the virus through a blood transfusion. Breast milk donors are also tested.


The most common type of HIV test is taken as a blood sample from a blood vessel in the arm. The sample is then examined in the laboratory. You usually have to wait a few days for the result. 

On some receptions, you can do a kind of test that gives quick response in 15 minutes. The test is done as a blood test through a stick in the finger. 

When you do an HIV test at a reception, you also have the opportunity to talk to a curator or nurse. 

When can I test myself at the earliest? 

You can have a blood test at the earliest one to two weeks after a time when you could have got HIV. An HIV test that shows negatively that you do not have HIV is safe when the test is taken six weeks after a time when you could have received the virus. 

An HIV test with a quick response is safe when it is done after eight weeks.

You can always submit a blood test for safety if your test shows a positive, that is, you have an HIV infection.

Important to understand

In order to be able to participate in your care and make decisions, it is important that you understand the information you receive from the healthcare staff. Ask questions if you don’t understand. You can also ask to have the information printed to read it peacefully.

You may have the right to receive interpreting assistance. You may also have the right to receive interpreting assistance in the event of hearing loss. 

To be notified

Knowing that you have HIV can be shocking, and it can feel difficult to absorb the message.

You have regular contact with infectious care in a hospital if you have HIV. There you will meet with a doctor, nurse, and curator for treatment and support. It can be good to have a close friend or a good friend during your first visits.

Around the country, there are also associations and support groups for people with HIV.

It is forbidden to discriminate against anyone who has HIV

It is forbidden to discriminate against anyone because they have HIV. In the Discrimination Act, HIV is included under the item that says you must not be discriminated against because you have a disability.

Treatment for HIV and AIDS

There is currently no cure for HIV. However, there are effective drugs that reduce the virus in the body to such low levels that they cannot be measured. It is called having a well-timed HIV treatment. It also prevents you from getting AIDS.

Medicines for HIV are sometimes called brake medications. 

The risk of infection decreases when treated

There is no risk of transmitting HIV in unprotected sex if you have a well-established HIV treatment.

When should you be treated?

Treatment for HIV starts pretty soon, usually, one to two weeks after you detect the infection, no matter how affected your immune system has become.

Care must be taken carefully.

The treatment for HIV and AIDS is very effective if you take your medication regularly without any interruption.

The amount of virus increases in the body again if you miss a medication dose or stop taking the treatment. It can cause the virus to become resistant, that is, resistant to the treatment so that it does not work.

AIDS can also be treated

Treatment is often effective even when HIV has developed into AIDS. Even if you already have AIDS, there are good chances that the treatment will stop or reverse the course of the disease.

Side effects of treatment

It is common for you to have mild side effects such as nausea and diarrhea. The side effects are often worse at the beginning of treatment. You may need to change medicines if they do not go over. 

You may also need to change your medication if you experience side effects such as nightmares, dizziness, effects on the bone marrow or blood. 

Some medicines can cause side effects over time. For example, you may have elevated blood fats or diabetes. 

Medicines for HIV can be affected by other medicines

Some medicines affect or are affected by other medicines if you use them at the same time. Even non-prescription drugs and herbal remedies can change the effects of your HIV treatment. Therefore, you should always consult your doctor before starting or changing a medication.

Children with HIV

Almost all children living with HIV have drug treatment and go to the hospital for check-in about four times a year. A well-arranged treatment prevents the virus from being transmitted.

The medicines make the children as strong and healthy as children without HIV. Children with HIV can do exactly the same things that other children can do, like going to school, playing and sports. The disease is not something that is visible or noticeable.

What happens in the body if I get HIV?

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. CD4 or T helper cells are a special type of white blood cell that plays an important role in the immune system. When you get HIV, they are infected and destroyed. The immune system gets worse when the white blood cells are destroyed.

The immune system is weakened and you get AIDS if you are not treated for HIV. 

What happens in the body if I get AIDS?

AIDS is a collective name for various types of infections and tumors, which you can get if your immune system has weakened. For example, there may be a particular kind of unusual pneumonia, tuberculosis, or fungal infections in the esophagus.

Diseases Act

According to the Infection  Protection Act, you must tell that you have HIV for the person you should have sex with if you live with HIV but do not have a well-established HIV treatment. This is called the duty of information. 

You do not need to tell you that you have HIV for a sex partner if you have a well-established HIV treatment. Then you also do not need to use a condom. 

Being exempt from the duty of information and using a condom is a decision taken by your doctor. Things that record, for example, how your blood levels of viruses look and how you remember to take the medication.

Pregnancy and HIV

HIV is no obstacle to getting pregnant. It is possible to both become pregnant or make someone pregnant without the child or partner getting HIV if you have a well-established HIV treatment.

The risk of a virus being transmitted to the child during pregnancy or childbirth is minimal if the person who is pregnant and living with HIV has a well-established HIV treatment.

It is possible to give birth vaginally or by cesarean section.

After childbirth, the child is treated with medication for about four weeks after birth. Samples are taken to see if the child has had HIV when it is between one and three months old.

So-called antibodies to HIV transmitted from the mother before birth are often left in the baby’s blood for up to two years, but that does not mean that the child has HIV. Blood tests are therefore also taken until the baby is about two years old, or until the antibodies have disappeared.

Breastfeeding and HIV

The baby cannot be breastfed because the virus can be transmitted with breast milk.

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