When HIV and AIDS first showed up, it left a lot of people feeling confused and scared. The lack of research meant there were a lot of unanswered questions. As a result, there were many stories about the mysterious disease of which some of them are completely untrue.
Sadly, these stories have created a negative perception of people who are living with HIV, further fuelling the stigma around the virus.
Below is a look at the common myths surrounding HIV.
1. HIV is a Disease of the Gay Community
While it is true that the infection affects a substantial number of gay and bisexual men, it is not true that it only affects them. Anybody, both men and women can contract HIV and AIDS, provided the conditions for transmission are met.
Therefore, it does not matter if a person is gay or not, the old and the young and anyone who is engaged in sexual relations should go for HIV testing regularly.
2. A Kiss can Get Infected with HIV
People are yet to understand the ways in which HIV can be transmitted. Some believe that HIV can be spread through sharing a kiss with a person infected with HIV.
On the contrary, there are no confirmed cases of HIV transmission through saliva, tears or even urine. HIV can only be transmitted when a person gets into contact with blood, semen, vaginal fluid or breast milk from an HIV-positive mother.
3. Contracting HIV is an Automatic Death Sentence
So many people died at the beginning of the AIDS pandemic that people have the notion that it is still a killer disease. However, current treatments and medication have cut the death rates from the infection to up to 80%.
There are many people that are alive, healthy and living with HIV. In addition, it is now possible for HIV positive expectant mothers to give birth to HIV-negative children.
4. HIV can be Contracted Via Any Sexual Interaction with an HIV+ Person
A number of HIV prevention methods can now be used to reduce the chances of contracting HIV during sex. Use of condoms is one of those ways which has been reported to work extremely well when used appropriately. In addition, HIV PrEP,which is given to people that are at a high risk of contracting HIV, helps prevent chances of contracting the infection.
5. Exposure to HIV Leads to a Direct HIV-Positive Status
Many people are not aware of HIV PEP, post-exposure prophylaxis which is given to people who may have been exposed to HIV after a certain period and can prevent contraction of HIV. The drug is available at many STD clinics.
6. AIDS Drugs are more Dangerous Than the HIV Virus
Some people attribute the death of people living with HIV to the side effects caused by the medication. Some even call the drugs poisonous. This is however not true and researchers are constantly looking for ways to make HIV treatments easier, more effective and safer to use.
7. HIV is not a Big Deal, Current Medications can Cure It
Advancement in research and technology has made it possible for scientists to come up with medicines that can manage the infection. Despite various attempts at developing a cure, the available treatments can only manage the infection but not cure the virus.
Despite numerous campaigns to educate people on HIV/AIDS, there’s still a lot of misconceptions surrounding the deadly virus. Fight stigma by educating yourself on everything you need to know about the virus.