In honor of world aids day, we highlight top ten myths about HIV/AIDS
World AIDS Day is held on the 1st December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day, held for the first time in 1988.
Over 100,000 people are living with HIV in the UK. There are an estimated 34 million people who have the virus globally. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
Today, scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition.
World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.
Top 10 Myths about HIV/AIDS
For close to three decades, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) have been shrouded in many myths and misconceptions.
In some cases, these mistaken ideas have prompted the very behaviors that cause more people to become HIV-positive. Although unanswered questions about HIV remain, researchers have learned a great deal. Here are the top ten myths about HIV, along with the facts to dispute them.
No. 1: HIV can be contacted by being around HIV-Positive people.
The evidence is against this myth as it has shown that HIV cannot be contacted through touch, tears, sweat, or saliva. It therefre proves that you CANNOT contact HIV by;
• Breathing the same air as an HIV positive individual.
• Touching toilet sat and/or door handle after an HIV positive individual has touched it.
• Hugging, kissing or shaking hands.
• Sharing eating utensils.
No. 2: I don’t need to worry about becoming HIV positive — new drugs will keep me well.
While it is true that antiretroviral drugs are improving and extending the lives of many people who are HIV-positive, many of these drugs are expensive and produce serious side effects. None yet provides a cure. Also, drug-resistant strains of HIV make treatment an increasing challenge.
No. 3: I can get HIV from mosquitoes.
It is known fact that HIV is spread through blood, it has led to the worry that bloodsucking insects may spread HIV. Several studies, however, show no evidence to support this — even in areas with lots of mosquitoes and cases of HIV. When insects bite, they do not inject the blood of the person or animal they have last bitten.
No. 4: I’m HIV-positive — my life is over.
At the onset of the disease epidemic, the death rate from AIDS was extremely high. But today, antiretroviral drugs allow HIV-positive people — and even those with AIDS — to live much longer, normal, and productive lives.
No. 5: AIDS is genocide.
One study showed that as many as 30% of African-Americans and Latinos expressed the view that HIV was a government conspiracy to kill minorities. This is false and largely unproven; instead, higher rates of infection in these populations may be due, in part, to a lower level of health care.
No. 6: I’m straight and don’t use drugs — I won’t become HIV-positive.
HIV was originally believe to be an epidemic that infected only the g community and while most men do become HIV-positive through sexual contact with other men or through injection drug use, about 16% of men and 78% of women become HIV-positive through heterosexual contact.
No. 7: If I’m receiving treatment, I can’t spread the HIV virus.
When HIV treatments work well, they can reduce the amount of virus in your blood to a level so low that it doesn’t show up in blood tests. Research shows, however, that the virus is still “hiding” in other areas of the body. It is still essential to practice safe sex so you won’t make someone else become HIV-positive.
No. 8: My partner and I are both HIV positive — there’s no reason for us to practice safer sex.
Practicing safer sex — wearing condoms or using dental dams — can protect you both from becoming exposed to other (potentially drug resistant) strains of HIV.
No.9: I could tell if my partner was HIV-positive.
You can be HIV-positive and not have any symptoms for years. Always make sure you get tested regularly.
N0. 10: You can’t get HIV from oral sex.
It’s true that oral sex is less risky than some other types of sex. But you can get HIV by having oral sex with either a man or a woman who is HIV-positive. Always use a latex barrier during oral sex.
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