Debunking myths about HIV/AIDS (plus facts you should know)

With the help of treatment, many people living with HIV/AIDS can have children without passing on the virus.

With the help of treatment, many people living with HIV/AIDS can have children without passing on the virus.

What you need to know:

  • There is so much misleading information about HIV which causes people to panic and not seek the necessary help.
  • Getting information from reliable sources like medical facilities will help clear myths and better understand HIV/AIDS.

Myths and misconceptions about HIV/AIDS have existed since the virus first emerged. Some of these myths include whether or not it can be cured, how long someone with HIV/AIDS will live, and so on.

Differentiating between facts and myths helps prevent the spread of the virus, abate stigma and improve the wellness of the affected.

Myths about transmission

Myth:

HIV can be transmitted through saliva and mosquito bites

Fact:

HIV cannot be spread through saliva. Only blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk

transmit the virus. Mosquito bites do not spread the virus.

Myth:

If you are taking medication for HIV/AIDS, you are not infectious.

Fact:

People who take their medication properly and have an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV to others. However, they can still contract and spread the virus if they neglect drugs.

Myth:

HIV/AIDS can be transmitted through sharing a swimming pool.

Fact:

You cannot contract HIV by using public or private pools, hot tubs, and sauna facilities because they do not transmit body fluids such as blood, semen, and vaginal fluid, which carry the infection.

Myth:

People with HIV/ AIDS are safe to have unprotected sex.

Fact:

There are many HIV variants. That means unprotected sex increases the chances of reinfection. Having unprotected sex also risks the spread of other STIs.

Myths about symptoms and diagnosis

Myth: HIV/AIDS is always symptomatic.

Fact: Most people experience flu-like symptoms soon after being infected with HIV, but some do not have any symptoms. Many people are unaware that they carry the infection due to a lack of symptoms.

Myth: HIV and AIDS are the same.

Fact: HIV is a virus that can develop into full-blown AIDS after years of infection if left untreated. This means that if detected early and treated, one may not get AIDS. AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV infection and can be deadly.

Myth: Vomiting and diarrhoea mean you have HIV.

Fact: These are common symptoms of many diseases and infections, not just HIV. However, if you experience any other unusual symptoms – including night sweats, fever, rash, or persistent tiredness – it is best to get tested for HIV.

Myths about HIV/ AIDS treatment and prevention

Myth: I cannot get HIV/AIDS if I am monogamous or heterosexual.

Fact: Anyone can get HIV, regardless of their sexual orientation or relationship status.

Myth: There is a cure for HIV/AIDS.

Fact: There is no cure for HIV/AIDS although treatments are available to help people manage the virus and extend their lives.

Myth: If one has HIV/AIDS, they cannot have children.

Fact: With the help of treatment, many people living with HIV/AIDS can have children without passing on the virus. However, it is essential to consult a doctor before trying to conceive.

Myth: Using condoms is uncomfortable.

Fact: Most condoms are latex, so using the wrong kind can irritate your skin. However, a wide range of different condom materials and styles available may suit you better than regular ones.

Myths about immunity and lifespan

Myth: You can get HIV/AIDS by donating blood or through donated blood.

Fact: There are strict rules to ensure that donated blood is safe for use, so you cannot contract the virus from transfusion or giving blood.

Myth: If someone has HIV, they will die after a short time.

Fact: The number of years when an individual becomes infected with HIV and develops AIDS varies greatly. Many people living with HIV/AIDS can enjoy a long and healthy life with proper treatment.

Myth: People with HIV/AIDS cannot work or lead normal lives.

Fact: People living with HIV/AIDS can live whole, productive lives if they receive appropriate treatment and care.

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