AIDS is one of the world’s most serious public health issues. According to UNAIDS statistics for the year 2017, about 36.9 million people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS. Of these 1.8 million are children under the age of 15. Thankfully, public awareness about HIV and AIDS is on the rise, yet, there are a lot of harmful and inaccurate myths that surround HIV/AIDS. These can often trigger fear in people against infected persons and at the same time make people living with HIV/AIDS feel ostracized.
To disperse some of the most common myths, here is a list of some misconceptions about HIV and AIDS.
But before that let us understand the basics.
What are HIV and AIDS?
HIV stands for Human immunodeficiency virus. It is the the virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or AIDS. The virus wears down the immune system and weakens a person’s ability to fight disease and infections.
How is HIV contacted?
HIV can spread from one person to another through infected body fluids such as blood, breast milk, semen, vaginal or anal secretions. The virus can spread in these ways:
- unprotected or unsafe sexual intercourse
- During pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding (from mother to child)
- Used needles that have infected blood on them
- Infected blood donations and organ transplants
Is AIDS curable?
Unfortunately, there is no cure to counter HIV or for AIDS. But there exist powerful and effective medicines to fight the virus that affected individuals can benefit from. Medications can allow affected individuals to live near normal and healthy lives. HIV-positive persons can take medication that are capable of suppressing the virus and delay or even prevent the onset of AIDS.
Finally here are 5 common myths that surround HIV/AIDS and how it spreads.
1. HIV does not spread to anybody by being friends with someone who is living with HIV.
2. HIV is not spread from saliva, so sharing food or drinks with an infected person cannot infect you. Similarly, you cannot get HIV from a person by touching, hugging or even kissing them.
3. It cannot be spread to you by sharing a kitchen, bathroom or bed with a person living with HIV since the virus does not spread through air, water or contact with surfaces.
4. There is no HIV in an infected person’s sweat, tears, urine or even faeces.
5. You cannot get HIV from animals, even blood sucking insects like mosquitoes. The infection can only be passed on between human beings.