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.
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.