For approximately 30 years, HIV and AIDS have been shrouded in a cloud of myths and misconceptions. Sometimes, these mistaken ideas have even prompted behaviors that cause more people to become HIV-positive. Included are some of the most common myths about HIV, as well as information to dispute them.
Myth: HIV can be cured.
Currently, there is no cure for HIV. Science has made great strides in HIV care. And, with treatment, infected people can reduce their viral load (amount of HIV in the blood) to the point that it is undetectable. Having an undetectable viral load helps prevent AIDS and other infections.
Myth: I cannot get HIV from tattoos or body piercing.
If tattoo and piercing tools are not sterilized properly between clients, HIV transmission is a definite possibility. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that tools which cut the skin should be used once, then thrown away or sterilized between uses.
Be sure to ask the right questions before getting a tattoo or having your body pierced in order to find out what steps the facility takes to prevent HIV and other infections (e.g., hepatitis B and hepatitis C).
Myth: I don’t need to get tested. I’d be able to tell if I had HIV/AIDS.
This is not true. The only way to know if you are HIV positive is to be tested for the HIV infection. You cannot rely on symptoms to know whether or not you are infected. Some people who are infected with HIV do not have any symptoms at all for 10 years or more (a.k.a. the latency period).
Myth: If my man had HIV, I'd be able to tell.
It can take 10 years for symptoms of HIV to show up. There may be a long period of time where someone has HIV but has no signs or symptoms. However, transmission can occur during this time. The only way to fully protect oneself from sexually transmitted HIV is to not have sex of any kind. Women can reduce their chances of HIV transmission by using a condom each time they have sex.
Myth: Since I am HIV positive, I will pass HIV on to my baby if I get pregnant.
A woman who knows about her HIV infection early in pregnancy and is treated has about a 2 percent chance of having a baby with HIV.