Myths and Facts about HIV/AIDS

Myth 1:  You can tell someone has HIV/AIDS through their physical appearance or stature?

Fact: You can’t tell if someone has HIV or AIDS by looking. An infected person can appear completely healthy. But anyone infected with HIV can infect other people, even if no symptoms are present.

If you’re not sexually active, you’ve already eliminated the most common cause of HIV infection among teens. But if you have made the decision to have sexual intercourse (or oral sex), you need to protect yourself.

Myth 2: I can get HIV by being around people who are HIV-positive.

Fact: Research has shown that HIV is not spread through touch, tears, sweat, or saliva. You cannot catch HIV by:

-Breathing the same air as someone who is HIV-positive

-Touching a toilet seat or doorknob handle after an HIV-positive person
-Drinking from a water fountain
-Hugging, kissing, or shaking hands with someone who is HIV-positive
-Sharing eating utensils with an HIV-positive person

-Using exercise equipment at a gymYou can get it from infected blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or mother’s milk.

Myth 3: I can get HIV from mosquitoes.

Fact: Because HIV is spread through blood, people have worried that biting or bloodsucking insects might spread HIV. Several studies, however, show no evidence to support this — even in areas with lots of mosquitoes and cases of HIV. When insects bite, they do not inject the blood of the person or animal they have last bitten.

Myth 4:  I’m HIV-positive — my life is over.

Fact: In the early years of the disease epidemic, the death rate from AIDS was extremely high. But today, antiretroviral drugs allow HIV-positive people — and even those with AIDS — to live much longer, normal, and productive lives.

Myth 5: When you’re on HIV therapy you can’t transmit the virus to anyone else.
Fact: Antiretroviral drugs don’t keep you from passing the virus to others. Therapy can keep the viral load down to undetectable levels, but HIV is still present in the body and can still be transmitted to others.

Myth 6: Since I only have oral sex, I’m not at risk for HIV/AIDS.

Fact: You can get HIV by having oral sex with a man or a woman. That is why it is important to use a latex barrier during oral, vaginal, or anal sex.

Myth 7: You cannot get HIV if you are using birth control methods like diaphragms, cervical caps, sponges, spermicides, DepoProvera, Norplant, or the Pill.

Fact: These birth control methods do not prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) such as HIV. They only aim to prevent pregnancy. The surest way to prevent both pregnancy and an STD is through abstinence. One way people who are sexually active may prevent pregnancy and STD infection is to use a condom in combination with another form of birth control, such as a diaphragm, cervical cap, sponge, spermicide, DepoProvera, Norplant, or the Pill. Birth control products containing the spermicide nonoxynol-9 (found in most contraceptive creams, gels, suppositories, foams, films and sponges) help to prevent pregnancy but may increase the risk of HIV.

References:

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=19039

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