Apparently, there are many misconceptions and myths that exist about AIDS. Even educated people and literates are unaware of some basic facts about the disease. As a result, people diagnosed with it are often at the receiving end of unwarranted discrimination. So, let’s get a few things straight and be a little more informed about the condition, shall we? By knowing how it can and, most importantly, cannot be transmitted, you would save yourself a lot of worries. Time to give myths about AIDS. Let’s first see how it is transferred.
HIV/AIDS is spread only from infected body fluids such as breast milk, anal or vaginal secretions, semen, and blood. This is generally transferred in the following ways:
- During breastfeeding. And, also during pregnancy from mother to child. It can also happen during childbirth
- Unprotected sex
- Infected organ transplants and blood donations
- Using infected needles
These are the main four and the rest we hear about the disease are irrational fears and false rumours. Let’s have a look at the common myths that surround the HIV/AIDS.
Myth 1: I can get HIV/AIDS from someone who is not affected.
Debunked: You can only get the disease from someone who is already affected. You’re safe if you’re not in presence of a diagnosed person.
Myth 2: I can’t use the same loo as the HIV affected person.
Debunked: The HIV is absent in the infected person’s urine, sweat, tears, or faeces. Thus, HIV can’t spread with these.
Myth 3: Mosquitos can spread HIV.
Debunked: You simply can’t get HIV from an insect bite. When a mosquito bites you, it doesn’t inject the last person’s blood it sucked. It just sucks your blood. So, no chance of infection getting spread in this situation.
Myth 4: Being in the vicinity of an HIV infected person can infect me as well.
Debunked: Being in the same room as the HIV affected person will not give you AIDS. This is mainly because HIV can’t stay in the air. So, even if they spit, sneeze, or cough, you won’t get HIV from just that. However, you might get cold from that, but not the deadly disease.
Myth 5: I can get HIV if I touch a person who has AIDS.
Debunked: The HIV can only survive inside the body. Not outside. So no, you can’t get AIDS just by touching an infected person. Touching, hugging, and shaking hands are all safe.
Myth 6: I can get HIV from animals.
Debunked: HIV can’t be spread through animals, only humans. HIV itself stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. So, no chance at all for getting the disease from them. And, it is also completely safe to touch and play with the pets of the AIDS affected people.
Myth 7: I can get HIV from water.
Debunked: HIV can’t survive in water either. So, it’s completely safe if you share shower areas, bathing spaces, swimming pools with people living with AIDS. You can also wash your clothes with theirs. No harm there, really.
Myth 8: I can get HIV from sterilised or new needles.
Debunked: First of all, new needles are completely safe since they haven’t been inside the AIDS infected person. And, the used needles can be used, too, if they are properly cleaned and sterilised.
Myth 9: I can get HIV from food.
Debunked: Even if the person preparing your food is infected with HIV, it is unlikely you would get diagnosed with AIDS. There is, however, very little amount of HIV present in the infected person’s saliva. This, nevertheless, is too small to infect you. Similarly, HIV can’t survive on surfaces. So, using the same cooking utensils is safe as well.
Myth 10: I can catch HIV from getting piercings and tattoos.
Debunked: There is a risk only if the needle has been inserted or used on the infected persons. However, most professionals use new or sterilised needles for each client. So, the risk is nil.
Myth 11: If I and my partner both have HIV, we don’t need to worry about it.
Debunked: You have to. Apparently, there are many strains of HIV. And, if you do unprotected sex, you can give each other more strains. And, this can interfere with your treatments.
Myth 12: I can prevent HIV with <insert the most outrageous thing you’ve heard>
Debunked: If you’re having sex, the only way you can prevent AIDS is either by using a condom or by pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Sleeping with a virgin or showering after sex won’t help you.
I hope you’ll see life and people with AIDS in a new light now.