Questions & answers

HIV is a virus that causes a chronic infection. The treatment works so well in Sweden that someone with HIV can live as long as anyone else. Treated HIV is not transmitted through sex. An untreated HIV infection is life-threatening in the long run, so it is important to get tested so that treatment can be started as early as possible. Treatment initiated at a late stage of an HIV infection can cause serious complications.

AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is the collective name for the condition that occurs when an untreated HIV infection has severely weakened the immune system. Various infections and diseases then become life-threatening. HIV and AIDS are not the same thing. The time from the moment of infection to contracting AIDS varies from person to person. It is usually said that it takes ten years on average for a person with untreated HIV to develop AIDS. During this time, you do not have to feel sick, but can transmit HIV to others if you are not on treatment.

The abbreviation STI stands for Sexually Transmitted Infection. This includes, for example, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, condyloma, and HIV.

Read more about STI here.

The only way to know if you have HIV or not is to take an HIV test. It is important that you get tested if you think you have exposed yourself to an HIV risk. Finding out early if you have HIV provides the opportunity for treatment, which can make you infection-free during sex. Getting tested can also be a way to get rid of your worry, fear, and anxiety about having HIV, if you don’t have HIV but have been exposed to risk.

The treatment is so effective that the amount of virus drops to immeasurable levels. Treated HIV is not transmitted through sex. The risk of HIV being transmitted during pregnancy or childbirth is very low if the mother is treated in an early stage. At present, it is not certain how much the risk of infection is reduced if you share injection tools. Breastfeeding, blood transfusions, and organ transplants are still considered a risk even if HIV is treated.

An HIV test is a blood sample taken in the armpit or through a finger-prick test. A sample taken in the armpit is sent to a laboratory for analysis and you will receive the answer after about a week. A sample taken from the finger, a so-called quick answer HIV test, is analyzed directly in the test room and you get the result after about 20 minutes. At Noaks Ark we offer quick answer HIV tests. It’s free of charge and you can remain anonymous.

The quick answer HIV test we use reacts to antibodies against HIV, which in the vast majority of people can be detected between three and six weeks after the time of infection. For the result to be absolutely reliable, the test has to be taken eight weeks after the time of risk. (Six weeks if the sample is taken in the armpit.)

Then another test is done to rule out that the test reacted to something else. The test is taken in the crease of the arm and sent to the laboratory. We help you book an appointment at a reception that can perform the test, in some cases we can also help with transportation. If the test shows that you have HIV, it is important that treatment is started as quickly as possible. Untreated HIV is life-threatening in the long run. In Sweden, HIV treatment works so well that people with HIV have the same life expectancy as people living without HIV. Treated HIV is not transmitted through sex.

The risk of transmitting HIV to another person is greatest in the first months after someone has contracted HIV and before the HIV treatment has started. At that point, the amount of virus in the blood and other body fluids is high, while the person who has HIV is unaware of his or her condition.

Untreated HIV can be transmitted in the following ways:

– in case of unprotected anal and vaginal intercourse with a person who has untreated HIV.

– in case of oral sex (oral sex) with a person who has untreated HIV.

– in case of transfusion of HIV-infected blood.

– through the transfer of infected blood when sharing syringes.

– from an HIV-positive mother to the child during pregnancy, at birth, or in connection with breastfeeding.

Treated HIV is not transmitted through sex. There is still an exaggerated fear of how HIV can be transmitted. This fear is usually rooted in ignorance. You can spend time with a person who has untreated HIV without fear of becoming infected.


-Untreated HIV is not transmitted by touching, caressing or kissing, nor through objects such as household items or through food and drink or through mosquitoes and other insects.

-You cannot get HIV if, for example, you swim in the same swimming pool with someone who has untreated HIV, use the same toilet or sit on the same bench in the sauna.

Condoms protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections if they are worn throughout intercourse, i.e. when the penis is inserted into the vagina, mouth or rectum.


-Never share syringes with anyone.

-Get tested if you are unsure and ask your partner if he or she has been tested.

-Using a condom is the safest way to protect yourself against untreated HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Riksförbundet Noaks Ark

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Reliable answers about HIV

You can turn to our counseling and ask any questions you want regarding HIV or other sexually transmitted and blood-borne diseases and remain completely anonymous. The call is not registered on your phone bill.

We who answer the phones have over 30 years of experience working with HIV. We are available for you on non-holiday weekdays between 10 am and 12 pm. During week 29 and week 30, we are open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.