HIV-positive foreign students often forgo treatment in the Netherlands because it is not covered by their health insurance, Dutch broadcasting corporation NOS reported last month. NOS believes several ‘dozens’ of HIV-infected students come to the Netherlands every year, mostly from Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Risk of spread of the disease

Since the medications used to keep HIV at bay cost between €700 and €1000 per month and since going home often isn’t an option, students allegedly choose not to receive treatment. This is detrimental to their own health and increases the risk of the virus spreading.

According to the Minister, the exact number of HIV-positive students in the country is unknown, as they are not registered anywhere. He wishes to have an investigation carried out “into the severity and nature of the problem, so as to get a better understanding of the risk posed to public health”.


Bruins is not surprised that some insurers will not reimburse the costs of HIV therapy for patients who were infected outside the Netherlands. “It is not unusual for insurance companies not to cover certain types of treatment,” he wrote. Bruins said it was “the insurers’ and the universities’ responsibility” to provide international students with good information on the subject.

The International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague (ISS), which is part of EUR, accommodates many students from Asia and Africa. However, HIV is not much of an issue at the institute, according to its confidential adviser Martin Blok. “In all the years I’ve worked here, I have come across a couple of international students who were HIV-positive. As far as I know, these international students made sure they received treatment.”

Blok is all for providing good information. He thinks it is vital that the students themselves are honest. “If you have health issues, come and see us. The university will try and help you find a solution.”