• Pneumonia is an infection in which the small airways are inflamed
  • Pneumonia can be caused by both bacteria and viruses
  • You are more likely to get pneumonia if you have a weakened immune system
  • Pneumonia is only an HIV indicator condition if you contract it twice or more often in one year




About 250,000 people get pneumonia every year. They are often younger than 10 years old or older than 55 years. In pneumonia, the lower lung branches and the alveoli are inflamed. This makes it more difficult to breathe. The new coronavirus (COVID-19) can also cause pneumonia.


Complaints that are associated with pneumonia are shortness of breath, a lot of coughing, pain when breathing, fever and fatigue. You may also feel flu-like symptoms. You may cough up thick, greenish or white mucus. The symptoms depend on the severity of the pneumonia.


Pneumonia can be caused by either a virus or a bacteria. Which virus or bacteria is the cause of the pneumonia determines how contagious the pneumonia is. You can contract these bacteria or virusses when someone near you coughs. If you then inhale the bacteria or virus, it can cause pneumonia.

Risk group

People with a weakened immune system are more likely to get pneumonia. Inflammation often begins in the upper respiratory tract. If the causative agent is not properly cleared by the body, it can eventually cause pneumonia.

HIV and pneumonia

An HIV infection reduces the immune system, increasing the risk of pneumonia. In people with an HIV infection we mainly see pneumonia caused by the bacterium pneumococcus. We only talk about the HIV indicator condition pneumonia if there are two or more pneumonias in one year (twelve months). If you have pneumonia caused by the bacteria pneumococcus or by the fungus pneumocystis jirovecii, one pneumonia a year is already defined as an HIV indicator condition. If you are not sure whether you have pneumonia and what causes it, 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. Pneumonia is one of the HIV indicator conditions. If you have or have had Pneumonia more than once within a period of 12 months 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.