Human immunodeficiency virus or HIV is a virus that targets the immune system of an individual. The spread of HIV is generally through the transfer of body fluids like pre-seminal fluid, semen, blood, vaginal fluids, anal fluids and breastmilk. Understanding the ways in which HIV virus is transmitted from one person to another, can help prevent the chances of infectio and  spreading of the virus

The HIV virus commonly spreads in the following qays:

  • Sharing needles
  • Unprotected intercourse
  • Contaminated blood transfusion
  • Contaminated organ/tissue transplant
  • From an infected mother to the baby during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Most people still do not know the correct information about how HIV transmission occurs. This in turn gives rise to a lot of rumors and myths.
In this article, we will talk about the top 10 myth about HIV and AIDS, and dismantle some of the common myths.

Top 10 myths about HIV and AIDS

Can I catch HIV from kissing?

According to the National Health Society (NHS), you cannot catch HIV from kissing. This is because HIV virus is not spread through the exchange of saliva. However, HIV virus is present in saliva but the presece of antibodies and enzymes (like secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI)  in the saliva naturally inhibits the HIV virus from infecting other cells. HIV can however spread through other body fluids like semen, blood and vaginal fluids.

Does HIV spread through musquito bites?

Most of the time, people think that the mosquito bites can also spread HIV. If they bite and suck blood from an infected person, and then bite another person they can cause spread of the virus. But according to studies, this does not happen. Firstly, the bugs do not inject the blood of the other person or animal when they bite an individual and secondly, the HIV virus can only live for a very short time inside these insects’ salivary glands, due to the presence of enzymes.

Is it possible to have HIV if I am straight and do not use any IV drugs?

This is a very common misconception about HIV. Males are often of the view that they cannot get HIV if they do not have had an intercourse with another male individual. But this is not true. You can have an HIV infection even if you have had a sex with female counterpart only. 1 in every 6 males and 3 in every 4 females are infected with HIV. However, the transmission of HIV during an intercourse between two women is rare.

How can I know whether my partner is HIV positive or not?

HIV can be assymptomatic for years therefore, the only way by which you can know if your partner is HIV positive or not is through a diagnostic test. Therefore, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that every individual between 18 to 64 years of age must get an HIV test done at least once in their lifetime.

Can medical drugs help in the treatment of HIV?

Antiretrovital drugs or ARTs are available in the market that improve the lifestyle of the people living with HIV. Prevention of HIV is much more effective than the treatment. The major drawbacks of ART drugs are:

  • Expensive 
  • Pose serious side effects
  • There are some HIV strains that are resistant to drugs
  • Complete cure of HIV is impossible

Will I need to take a lot of pills every day if I am diagnosed with HIV?

No, HIV treatment does not require you to take many pills each day. HIV treatment requires almost 1-4 pills every day which can also be combined in a single pill depending upon your condition and severity of infection.

Will the virus spread even if I am taking my treatment?

No, if your viral load, that is, the amount of virus preset in your blood becomes so low that it is not detected in the blood test, then you cannot transmit the virus to other people. Therefore, antiretroviral drugs work by reducing the virus load on your blood.

Can I have kids even after having HIV?

Yes, you can have kids even after having HIV with the help of medications. Doctors can help you have a safe intercourse with yor partner. If the female is HIV positive, some medicines are prescribed to her during the pregnancy to protect herself and her baby from the infection.

Is AIDS a genocide?

No, not at all. The spread of HIV is not a conspiracy made by the government to kill the mosquitoes or boycot individuals with HIV and/ AIDS. Threfore, it cannot be a genocide attempt.

Does HIV infection mean the end of life?

No, with the advances in the medical field, HIV does not ultimately means end of life. Now, there are antiretroviral drugs available that can reduce your viral load and ensure a better, normal, and longer lifestyle. An early treatment of HIV can also prevent its transmission to AIDS.

Can I get HIV by being around a person who is HIV positive?

No, HIV does not spread through air, so being around a person who is HIV positive will not make you infected.
The spread of HIV is not possible through:

  • Touch an HIV positive person
  • Body fluids like sweat, tears, saliva, and pee
  • Breathing the same air
  • Drinking from a water fountain
  • Shaking hands, kissing or hugging
  • Touching door handles or toilet seat
  • Sharing utensils
  • Using same equipments in a gym

Takeaway 

HIV infection is serious and is transmitted easily between partners. However, being HIV positive does not mean that you need to exclude yourself from your social circle. You just need to get a proper treatment so that you can lead your life normally. Now, that the major myths about HIV are answered, you can deal with a HIV patient, in a more positive and humble manner.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Is the transmission of HIV easy?

    No, the transmission of HIV is not that easy. The possibility of transmission of HIV is around 0.1% per intercourse.

  2. Can open mouth kissing lead to HIV?

    No, the chances of spread of HIV through open mouth kissing is very rare as the saliva does not carry an optimum load of the HIV virus.

  3. Does having HIV means that you cannot have sex in your life?

    No, if you have HIV, you can still have protected sex with your partner. Moreover, a proper treatment can help you control your virus load so that you can try for babies in the future naturally.

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I'm a dentist by profession and a public speaker by passion. I started my journey towards being a medical professional quite early. I decided as young as 12 that I wanted to be a doctor. When I started working I realised there is a gap between the general public and medical professionals. I started working towards bridging that by collaborating with NGOs by including children and exposing them to the need of good health. I worked with ISKON to set up COVID camps in Delhi and have continued being a part of discussions and talks emphasizing the importance of being actively involved in taking care of your health.

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