About STDs

What do we mean by STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), such as: 

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Lues
  • Hepatitis B
  • HIV
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Genital warts
  • Herpes
  • A urethral infection
  • Scabies
  • Pubic lice

STDs are detected more often in men who have sex with men, sex workers and young people under the age of 25.Besides, STDs are detected more often and sooner because the number of people who are being tested is increasing. About 18 percent of the tests actually determine the presence an STD. Two-thirds of all STD consultations in the Netherlands take place at the GP. The remaining percentage is done by STD policlinics.

In 2016, one or more STDs were found in 18.4% of STD consultations at sexual health centers and GPs. Chlamydia is most common:

  • Chlamydia: 14.5%
  • Gonorrhea: heterosexual men and women around 1.5% and gay men around 11.3%
  • Syphilis: heterosexual men and women between 0.019% and 0.07%, and gay men around 11.3%
  • HIV: 0.05% heterosexual men and women and 0.8% homosexual men
Incubation time and window phase
The incubation period of an STD says something about the period that elapses between the actual infection and the first clinical (ie laboratory-demonstrable) symptoms. The window phase indicates after which period an infection can be detected with sufficient certainty by testing. The incubation time and window phase according to NHG standards for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV are shown below. In the case of complaints, however, it is always recommended to test earlier and if that test result is negative, it is recommended for chlamydia and gonorrhea to retest after 3 weeks and to retest after 3 months for syphilis and HIV.

Chlamydia is the most common STD. The proportion of chlamydia in men and women is stable among general practitioners. Recent research shows that in Groningen 24% of the tests give a positive chlamydia result, so that's pratically a quarter of all tests!

Incubation time: 1-3 weeks
Window period: 3 weeks


This STD mainly occurs in gay men. There is also an increase in the number of people with gonorrhea among general practitioners. This increase was mainly among people older than 25 years.

Incubation time: 2-14 days (average of 8 days)
Window period: 3 weeks

Almost all cases (95%) of syphilis occur in homosexual men. The number of diagnosed cases among women and heterosexual men was extremely low in 2017.

Incubation time: 10-90 days
Window period: 3 months

In 2017, more than 1,000 new people with HIV came to the Dutch HIV treatment centers. The number of new HIV infections is slowly decreasing. Two thirds of HIV infections are diagnosed in homosexual men.

Incubation time: max. 3 months
Window period: 3 months

Surprisingly, the number of STD consultations has decreased further among GPs. People need to rely on their own risk for an STD test at the general practitioner and they may therefore refrain from doing so.
Moreover, buying online STD tests is popular. However, these self-tests are usually not reliable, according to research by RIVM and Soa Aids Nederland. Read more

For information and more numbers on this topic, visit the website of the Ministry of Health..