HIV Myths



For more than thirty years people have been talking about HIV (human Immunodfeincy virus) and AIDS (acquired immunodefincy syndrome).  This is because AIDs has causes over 30 million deaths and more than 34 million people are living with HIV worldwide.

What is HIV? HIV is a virus that attacks T-cells in the immune system. HIV is the infection that causes AIDS.

What is AIDS? AIDS is the syndrome that appears in the later stages of HIV. It can take up to ten years to appear.

HIV is a virus. AIDS is a medical condition. HIV infection causes AIDS to develop. Without treatment, the HIV infection is allowed to progress and eventually it will develop into AIDS.  There have been many myths surrounding these conditions which can be life threatening.

Here are some of the biggest myths:


MYTH #1: I can get HIV by shaking hands, hugging, sneezing, or touching someone who is HIV Positive.

TRUTH: You cannot get HIV from casual contact or even toilet seats. The disease is spread through blood, semen, breast milk or vaginal secretions.


MYTH #2: If I get HIV I can just take medication or a HIV cocktail and be cured. There is a cure for HIV.

TRUTH: There is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS, but there are treatments. Treatments like the HIV “cocktail” can slow the course of the disease - some infected people can live a long and relatively healthy life. There are also no vaccines to prevent HIV infection.


MYTH #3: HIV only affects gay people.

TRUTH: Anyone can get HIV/AIDS. HIV is transmitted from blood-to-blood contact, sharing needles or unsafe sex.


MYTH #4: You can use birth control to prevent HIV. Using diaphragms, cervical caps, sponges, DepoProvera, Norplant, the pill, or spermicides will prevent me from getting HIV.

TRUTH: Birth control methods can not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases. Birth control will not protect you from HIV. Also be careful of products containing the spermicide nonoxynol-9. It is a detergent found in contraceptive creams, gels, suppositories, foams, films and sponges. They may actually increase the risk of HIV.


MYTH #5:  If a person is receiving treatment, they can’t spread the HIV virus.

TRUTH: 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: A person can only have one sexually transmitted disease (STD) at a time. TRUTH: This is not true. A person with an untreated STD may also be much (six to ten times) more likely to pass on or get HIV during sex.


MYTH #7: You can’t get HIV from oral sex.

TRUTH: You can get HIV/AIDS from oral sex, vaginal, anal intercourse, or sharing needles. 


MYTH #8: If I use a condom, I cannot get or spread HIV.

TRUTH:  This is not true. Though the terms “highly effective” and “reduced risk” are used when talking about condoms, the term “foolproof” is never used.  The HIV virus is much smaller than male sperm. If a condom is not 100% effective against pregnancy, it surely does not protect 100% against AIDS. Per the FDA: “The surest way to avoid these diseases is to not have sex altogether (abstinence). Another way is to limit sex to one partner who also limits his or her sex in the same way (monogamy). Condoms are not 100% safe, but if used properly, will reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS.”


MYTH #9: I could tell if my partner or I had HIV.

TRUTH: It might take up to ten years for a person with HIV to show symptoms. Many people with HIV can look and feel healthy for years. They could unknowingly pass on the disease to another in that time. The only sure way to know is to get tested.  HIV testing can identify infection in the early stages. This allows the patient to use prophylactic (preventive) drugs, which will slow the rate at which the virus replicates, delaying the onset of AIDS.


MYTH #10: HIV medications cause cancer.

TRUTH: No. There is no proof that HIV medications increase the risk of getting cancer. However, there is a high correlation. Weaker immune systems make it difficult to fight off diseases like cancer.


There are many more myths about HIV and other STDs that can be life threatening. It is important that you get the facts. If you or someone you know might have HIV please call Free Women’s Health Clinic. We give you any support you need and can help you get tested.



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