• In chronic diarrhea there is watery stool that has lasted for at least six weeks
  • There are many causes for diarrhea
  • In the case of unexplained diarrhea, no clear cause for the diarrhea has been found after investigation
  • HIV can cause chronic diarrhea





Complaints that are consistent with chronic diarrhea are watery stools, often one or more times a day. In addition, it may be more difficult to hold the stool and there may be symptoms of fever, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting.


There are several causes for diarrhea. The most common causes are an infection of the stomach or intestines, irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies, medication (such as antibiotics), stress or chronic diseases like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. You can also get diarrhea if you are constipated.
Gastrointestinal infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites. You can contract these infections everywhere. Diarrhea is called 'chronic' if you have had diarrhea for at least six weeks. When no clear cause for the diarrhea is found, it is called 'unexplained'.

HIV and chronic diarrhea

In case of an HIV infection, the immune system is reduced. This makes you more likely to get diarrhea. Unexplained chronic diarrhea can therefore be a sign of an undiscovered HIV infection. Other research into more common causes of chronic diarrhea (such as an infection of the stomach or intestines or irritable bowel syndrome) has provided insufficient explanation. If you are not sure whether you suffer from unexplained chronic diarrhea, you can contact your doctor.
HIV indicator conditions are conditions or symptoms that occur more often in people with an underlying HIV infection than in people without an HIV infection. Unexplained chronic diarrhoea is one of the HIV indicator conditions. If you have or have had unexplained chronic diarrhoea and have not been tested for HIV, it is advisable to ask your doctor or general practitioner for an HIV test. Find it difficult to ask for an HIV test? You may download a call card that will help you formulate your question.