(acute HIV infection)
  • Complaints of a mononucleosis-like illness are fever, laryngitis and swollen glands
  • Mononucleosis is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus and is not an HIV indicator disease
  • A mononucleosis-like illness can be sign of an acute HIV infection. An acute HIV infection often is the first manifestation of a recently acquired HIV infection and can resemble mononucleosis
  • The sooner an HIV infection is detected, the better it can be treated
A mononucleosis-like illness is a disease that is very similar to mononucleosis, but in which the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is not the cause.


The three most common complaints of a mononucleosis-like illness are fever, swollen glands and sore throat or pain when swallowing.
People can also have a flu-like feeling, be tired and develop skin rashes or sores in the mouth or on the genitals. 50 to 90 percent of people with an HIV infection develop these symptoms at the start of the infection. The complaints can be non-specific, which means that they are often not recognised as an acute HIV infection.


Infectious mononucleosis is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. If this is not the case, it is referred to as a mononucleosis-like illness.

Several viruses can cause a mononucleosis-like illness, such as human herpes virus (HHV-6), cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes simplex virus (HSV) and HIV.

Risk group

Groups at risk for getting an HIV infection are people with multiple sexual contacts, men who have sex with men, sex workers, people born in HIV-endemic countries and people who use drugs intravenously (inject drugs). People who have sexual contacts with people from risk groups also have an increased risk of HIV infection.

HIV and mononucleosis-like illness

A mononucleosis-like illness is only spoken of if the above complaints are not caused by mononucleosis.

Mononucleosis-like illness can be a sign of an acute HIV infection. This is often the first moment that there are symptoms due to an HIV infection.
This is usually in the first six months after contracting the HIV infection.

It is important to get tested for HIV if you have these symptoms. The earlier treatment against HIV is started, the better the outcome for the patient. If you don't treat the HIV infection, it can eventually lead to AIDS.
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. Mononucleosis-like illness is one of the HIV indicator conditions. If you have or have had mononucleosis-like illness 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.