Make informed decisions and help get rid of stigma and prejudice associated with HIV by clearing the many myths and misconceptions surrounding HIV/AIDS. Take a moment to shed light on some of these common misconceptions:
Myth: “Only gay men and intravenous drug users get HIV/AIDS.”
Fact: HIV does not discriminate. Whether you are gay or straight, young or old, black, brown or white, the virus does not care. HIV can infect anyone, especially those who are sexually active.
Myth: “HIV/AIDS is a death sentence.”
Fact: This is the biggest myth of all. With the help of modern medicine, people are living with HIV and AIDS longer and healthier than ever before.
“There is a cure for AIDS.”
Unfortunately, there is no cure for HIV or AIDS at this time and many experts think we are still many years away from a cure or a vaccine. Many treatments are available to help people live long and healthy lives.
“You have to be rich to get treatment for HIV.”
You don’t have to be Magic Johnson to receive treatment for HIV. Treatment is available to all, regardless of your income.
“I don’t need to use condoms for oral sex.”
There are risks associated with oral sex. To ensure utmost protection, condoms must be used for each and every sexual encounter: vaginal, anal and oral.
“If I am HIV positive, I can’t have children.”
Although there is a small risk of transmission, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and other treatments have made it possible for HIV positive couples to have children more safely than ever before. With proper treatment, the risk of passing HIV from mother to child is only 2%. For men, sperm washing, or cleansing sperm of HIV, may be an option. Learn more about becoming an HIV positive parent.
“If my partner and I are both HIV positive, we don’t need to use protection.”
There are multiple strains of the HIV virus, and it is possible for people with HIV to become re-infected. Re-infection, or “superinfection,” can cause serious problems for people living with HIV/AIDS. Superinfection with a different strain can disrupt and complicate HIV treatment.
“People over 50 don’t get HIV/AIDS.”
Not true! HIV does not discriminate by age. As a matter of fact, people over 50 make up a rapidly growing segment of the HIV and AIDS population. About 19% of people infected with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. are over 50. Learn more about HIV/AIDS among older Americans.
“I can get HIV/AIDS by donating blood or receiving a blood transfusion.”
When HIV/AIDS first appeared in the early 1980’s, blood transfusions accounted for many new cases. Today, the nation’s blood supply is screened very carefully and health care workers adhere to protocols requiring clean needles, gloves, and other precautions. According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk for transmission of HIV from a blood transfusion is 1 in 1.5 million, a very low amount. Fear of HIV/AIDS should not prevent a person from donating blood.
“I can get HIV/AIDS by being around someone who is HIV positive.”
HIV/AIDS is only spread through blood and sexual fluids. It is not an air-born disease and it is not spread through skin-to-skin contact, saliva, sweat, or tears. Despite the fact that you cannot become infected if you shake hands, hug, dance, use a drinking fountain, share a toilet seat, or eat from the same fork or dish, many people are still afraid to touch a person with HIV. People with HIV often say that the stigma associated with their HIV diagnosis hurts worse than the disease itself.
“I can get HIV/AIDS from mosquitoes and bug bites.”
Bloodsucking insects cannot spread HIV/AIDS. The virus cannot survive or reproduce in insects. Plus, when insects bite, insects do not inject any kind of blood into people’s bodies when they bite.