About 37 million people are living with HIV around the globe. Medical advances certainly made HIV from being an unknown and incurable disease to a manageable illness today.
…the CDC announced that it had been underestimating the cases of HIV/AIDS diagnosed each year by about 40%. The new numbers estimate that over 56,000 people were diagnoses with HIV/AIDs in 2006 or approximately one American every 10 minutes. — Brian Mustanski Ph.D.
Despite that, we cannot deny that there is still much false information going around. Worse, the lack of knowledge about HIV perpetuates the stigma around it and the people who have it. One way to counter this is to help educate the masses and shift their attitude about HIV.
Myth #1: HIV Is Sure To Kill You
Unlike before, HIV now is no longer considered a death sentence. With modern medical treatments, it is now a manageable chronic illness. Thousands of people diagnosed as HIV-positive live the same way as people who are HIV-negative because of advanced HIV treatments. Thus, it is ideal to be diagnosed early so that treatment can follow soon after.
Myth #2: You Can Contract HIV By Kissing
This myth is a common concern for many people. But this is extremely unlikely because HIV does not spread in the saliva. The risk elevates if your kissing partner has sore or bleeding gums. However, overall transmission through kissing is still a rare case.
In a new study, investigators discovered children who grow up in well-managed households, enjoyed school, and had friends who stayed out of trouble reported fewer sexually transmitted diseases in young adulthood. —
Myth #3: HIV And AIDS Are The Same
Although it has already been decades since the beginning of the HIV pandemic, media outlets still need to draw a clear distinction between HIV and AIDS. Again, thanks to advanced HIV treatment, most people who have HIV will never have AIDS anymore, especially if HIV treatment started early. It ensures the person can live normally with the best quality of life possible.
People with HIV cannot have intercourse with people who do not have HIV.
You can still have sexual intercourse with people who do not share your same HIV status. There are multiple ways on how you can prevent HIV transmission during sex. The most obvious method is by using a condom. Fortunately, if the person is also on HIV treatment, then there are virtually zero risks of transmitting the virus.
Myth #4: People With HIV Cannot Have Children
Though there are safety measures HIV-positive people have to take before having children, saying that they cannot have children at all is false. The most important thing that a woman with HIV can do is to start treatment as soon as possible. If she takes medicine daily or as recommended by the doctor, the risk of transmitting HIV to the baby diminishes to as little as 1% (sometimes even less).
A lack of knowledge regarding HIV and its risk factors can lead to dangerous false beliefs, including the notion that it’s always a “death sentence” and that it’s always the result of behaviors that some consider dishonorable or disapproved (homosexuality, infidelity, drug use, etc.). — Brad Ogilvie, MS, LPC, LMFT
The only way you can be sure if you have HIV or not is to get yourself tested. Relying solely on how you feel won’t do because most people who are HIV-positive don’t even pose symptoms until after a few years.
Regular testing is also a good idea if you’ve had unprotected sex or if your partner is HIV-positive. After testing, your doctor will prescribe a set of treatments to help keep you safe. Luckily, HIV testing is easy and painless.
Proper education is still the primary step towards achieving a society free of stigma toward people with HIV. Apart from that, we should work toward preventing the spread of HIV to more people. We can do this by encouraging regular check-ups and treatments. Through this, we can promote a healthier society free of not only HIV but also of judgment.