There are many myths and misunderstandings about HIV/ AIDS out there. In dealing with HIV/ AIDS, it is important to know about the truth of the myths because believing myths can lead to fear, desperation and even harm your health.
Knowing more about the characteristics of HIV/ AIDS is important to fight against false ideas that sabotage the treatment and prevention strategies. Here are some common myths about HIV and AIDS.
Myth 1: HIV can spread through casual contact
The most important myth that experts have tried to debunk again and again is that HIV can only be spread through contact with blood or other body fluids (such as breast milk, sperm, and vaginal fluids) and not through casual contact.
Hugging, kissing, sharing eating utensils, using the same toilet, or when HIV infected person coughs or sneezes CAN NOT cause the spread of HIV. Even open-mouthed or “French” kissing is considered a low risk of carrying saliva. However, if an infected person or both have blood in their mouth because of injuries, open wounds, or gum disease, the risk is higher. The several ways that HIV can spread are:
- Sharing hypodermic needles
- Anal, vaginal intercourse and sometimes oral sex
- Receiving infected blood donors, tissue or organ
Myth 2: Oral sex can not cause HIV
You can get HIV/ AIDS by having oral sex with men or women, although relatively small chance of contracting the virus through sexual intercourse. Sperm or vaginal fluids can carry the disease. The risk increases in case of open sores on the genitals or mouth, or significant bleeding gums. Therefore, it is important to use a latex barrier during oral sex, vaginal, or anal.
Myth 3: HIV is a gay disease
HIV is a virus that anyone can be vulnerable to, regardless of their sexual orientation. It can affect newborns babies, teens, adults, women, and people from any race or nationality. Worldwide, HIV is spread mostly through heterosexual contacts.
Myth 4: Only old people can get HIV
In 2007, more than 700 young people (aged 16-24) were diagnosed with HIV, 11% of all new HIV diagnoses, young people who have homosexual most at risk of contracting HIV in the UK.
Myth 5: Mosquitoes can transmit HIV
Mosquitoes do not transmit blood of other people they suck to the new victim. However, mosquitoes do inject their saliva into their victims, who may carry diseases such as dengue fever, malaria, etc. HIV/ AIDS does not reproduce in insects, so the virus does not survive in mosquitoes to be transmitted in saliva.
Myth 6: A HIV-infected women can not have children
HIV-infected women are still fertile and the risk of transmitting HIV to her unborn babies is between 15 to 30 percent. However, today with antiretroviral therapy, the rate of transmit HIV from infected mother to child has dropped to around 2 to 3 percent.
Myth 7: HIV positive person looked ill
A person can be infected with HIV/ AIDS for more than 10 years without showing any signs or symptoms. For years, the person feels well, able to work as usual and showed no signs of illness. So if a partner looks healthy, it is important to know his or her HIV/ AIDS status.
Myth 8: Condoms worked all the time
Latex condoms are essential in preventing HIV transmission. Using condoms correctly and persistently for oral sex is good protection but it can not guaranteed works 100%. You can not be rest assured that you will never contract the virus by using a condom, However It is still an effective protection equipment nonetheless.
Myth 9: HIV is a death sentence
This is the biggest myth of all. Medicine has come a long way, and although there is not a cure for HIV, it’s not a death sentence. Today, people diagnosed with HIV can have a normal life expectancy, and live healthy.
HIV/ AIDS myths are very crucial. No matter who you are, it is important to have correct information about HIV/ AIDS. Remember to practice safe sex and protect yourself.