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Having correct information is the key to understanding and preventing HIV/AIDS. Here are some myths about these conditions, along with the realities.
Myth: HIV is the same as AIDS.
Reality: HIV is the virus which leads to AIDS. A person can be infected with HIV for years without having AIDS.
Myth: HIV only affects gay men or drug users.
Reality: HIV is an equal opportunity virus. It affects newborns, women, seniors, teens and people of any race or nationality.
Myth: Women can't give men HIV.
Reality: Men have fewer areas on the penis where the virus can enter the bloodstream, but it can enter through the tip opening or from cuts and sores on the shaft.
Myth: If an HIV-positive woman is pregnant, she’ll spread the disease to the baby.
Reality: A pregnant woman with HIV, who receives no treatment, will give birth to an HIV-infected baby about 25 percent of the time. For those on antiretroviral therapies, the rate of transmission has dropped to around two percent.
Myth: I could tell if my partner was HIV-positive.
Reality: You can have and spread HIV for up to 10 years without having any symptoms of it or AIDS. Getting tested is the only indisputable way to know.
Myth: You can’t get HIV from tattoos or body piercing.
Reality: A risk of HIV transmission does exist if tools contaminated with blood are not cleaned and properly sterilized between clients.
Myth: HIV can be cured.
Reality: There is no cure for HIV infection. Highly active antiretroviral therapy helps manage symptoms and the amount of the virus in the body, but it’s not a cure.
Myth: You can get HIV by being around people who are HIV-positive.
Reality: Normal activities like shaking hands, hugging, using the toilet, drinking from the same glass, or being nearby when someone with HIV coughs or sneezes don’t spread HIV. Even open-mouthed kissing is relatively low risk.
Myth: There’s no need to worry about becoming HIV positive. The new drugs keep people healthy.
Reality: Antiretroviral drugs are improving and extending the lives of many people who are HIV-positive. However, many are expensive and have serious side effects.
Myth: HIV or AIDS is a death sentence.