11 common myths about HIV and AIDS – Let’s erase the stigma

1/12/2023

According to the latest data of the World Health Organization, around 39 million of people were living with HIV around the world at the end of 2022, including 1,5 million of children. Whilst progress has been made to prevent and treat HIV throughout the years, a lot of misconceptions surrounding HIV and AIDS still exist. We are debunking the most common myths about HIV and AIDS in this article.

MYTH #1: “HIV or AIDS can be cured.”

Medication for HIV is known as antiretroviral therapy (ART). It doesn’t cure HIV, but when taken as prescribed, ART can reduce the amount of the virus in the body.

MYTH #2: “Having HIV means your life is over.”

The outlook for people living with HIV has significantly improved over the past 10 years. Most people with HIV can live long and healthy lives if they get and stay on treatment.

MYTH #3: “I won’t get HIV if I take birth control.”

Birth control does not protect you against HIV. It is important to use protection when engaging in any type of sexual activity.

MYTH #4: “HIV affects childbirth and fertility.”

HIV does not aff­ect fertility and childbirth, especially for women who are receiving appropriate and adequate treatment. However, not taking medications while being pregnant can lead to mother-to-child transmission (MTCT). Pregnant people who are living with HIV should continue treatment or medications as recommended.

MYTH #5: “It’s okay to have unprotected sex if you and your partner are both HIV-positive.”

Different strains of HIV among partners can result in superinfection, which means that two strains combine and alter the virus. The use of a new condom for each sexual act, along with medication adherence, reduces the chance of superinfection.

MYTH #6: “I can get HIV by being around people who are HIV positive.”

HIV cannot be spread through casual contact. The virus can only be transmitted through certain body fluids including: blood, semen, rectal fluid, vaginal secretion, and breast milk. HIV is not spread through saliva, sweat, tears, or even mosquito bites.

MYTH #7: “HIV only affects certain sexual orientations.”

Anyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation can become infected with HIV.

MYTH #8: When you’re on HIV therapy, you can’t transmit the virus to anyone else.

HIV treatment reduces the chance of passing HIV by 96%, but there is a 4% chance of transmission between an infected (virally suppressed) and an uninfected partner.

MYTH #9: Since I only have oral sex, I’m not at risk for HIV/AIDS.

Although studies show you have a considerably lower risk of getting HIV through oral sex, there is still a possibility, especially if the receptive partner has had recent dental work or has open sores or wounds.

MYTH #10: “You can tell someone is HIV-positive by the way they look.”

It is normal for people with HIV to not look or feel sick. In fact, the CDC reports one in seven people who are infected with HIV don’t even know it. The only way to know if a person has HIV is for them to get tested and share their positive results.

MYTH #11: “I can’t get HIV if I have a sexually transmitted disease (STD).”

STDs including HIV have the same primary transmission method, so the same activities that place you at risk for STDs place you at risk for HIV. Having an STD also increases your chances of HIV infection because of breaks or tears in the genital tract lining or skin.

More information about HIV prevention can be found in our Knowledge Centre: https://medilinkint.com/educational-resources/hiv/

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