Misconceptions and misinformation about HIV/AIDS still exist despite the progress made in raising awareness and providing treatment globally. Therefore, it is essential to dispel the myths surrounding this condition to promote accurate understanding and support those affected. On World AIDS Day, observed every year on December 1, let’s examine some common myths and facts about AIDS.
Myth 1: HIV spreads through touch.
HIV cannot spread through touching. Shaking hands, hugging, high-fiving – these won’t transmit the virus.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). HIV is primarily transmitted through unprotected sex, sharing of needles, and from an infected mother to her child during childbirth or breastfeeding.
Myth 2: You can get HIV from Insects or mosquito bites.
HIV cannot be transmitted through mosquito bites. The virus doesn’t survive in mosquitoes and can’t be spread this way due to the different genetic makeup compared with human DNA. Additionally, insects do not reinject blood into a new person. This means they cannot transmit HIV.
Myth 3: HIV/AIDS only affects specific groups of people.
Fact: HIV/AIDS can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status. Breaking down stereotypes is crucial to promoting inclusive awareness.
Myth 4: AIDS can be cured with antibiotics or herbal remedies.
“Antiretroviral therapy (ART) can manage HIV, but there’s no cure for AIDS. Antibiotics can’t eliminate the virus, and unproven herbal remedies won’t provide a cure.”
Myth 5: HIV/AIDS is a death sentence.
Fact: With advancements in medical treatment, HIV is a manageable chronic condition. Early detection, access to antiretroviral therapy (ART), and a healthy lifestyle enable individuals to lead fulfilling lives.
Myth 6: You can’t have a family if you’re HIV positive.
Fact: With proper medical guidance, HIV-positive individuals can have healthy pregnancies and give birth to HIV-negative babies. Prevention of mother-to-child transmission programs has been successful in reducing transmission rates. Woman living with HIV if preparing for pregnancy then she should begin ART treatment as soon as possible. If a woman takes her HIV medicine daily as recommended and continues medicine for her baby for 4 to 6 weeks after birth, the risk of transmitting HIV to the baby can be as low as 1% or less.
Myth 7: HIV can be transmitted through Kiss, saliva, tears, or sweat.
HIV isn’t transmitted through saliva, tears, or sweat, even if they come into contact with someone who has the virus. No casual contact transmission happens.” It is impossible to transmit the virus by kissing on the cheeks or the lips.
Myth 8: Condoms are not effective in preventing HIV transmission.
Correct and consistent use of condoms significantly reduces the risk of HIV transmission during sexual activity. Additionally, PrEP is a preventive measure for those at higher risk. According to current medical recommendations, even if both partners have HIV, they should use condoms during every sexual encounter. This is because it is possible to transmit a different strain of HIV to a partner, or in rare cases, transmit a form of HIV that is considered a “superinfection” from a strain that is resistant to current ART medications.
Myth 9: If the mother is HIV positive, the baby will also be HIV positive.
If a mother is positive but on treatment with undetectable viral loads, the chances of mother-to-child transmission are diminished. HIV medicines during pregnancy and breastfeeding lower the risk to less than 1%. One should consult the doctor about options for feeding their baby.
Myth 10: Those who test negative for HIV can have unprotected sex.
Depending on the test, HIV positivity could be detected after a few weeks or up to three months after possible exposure. Ask the person performing the test about this window period and the timing of repeat testing.
It is necessary to have enough knowledge of HIV/AIDS to combat stigma, encourage prevention, and provide support to those who are living with the virus. Education, awareness, and accessibility to healthcare are crucial in the worldwide campaign to curb the transmission of HIV and enhance the quality of life of individuals affected by AIDS.