Common HIV Myths
There are a lot of misconceptions about HIV and how it is transmitted. What many people hold to be true is much different than what we now know through the most recent research. So, what are some of these ideas that seem to be spreading rapidly among the general public?
How HIV Is Contracted
A common misconception about HIV is that the virus can be contracted by just being in the presence of someone who has it. Fortunately, we know that this is actually nothing but a common myth. And as a matter of fact, it can only be transmitted through blood-to-blood contact, through the breast milk of an HIV-positive mother, or through the use of intravenous drugs (sharing needles). During intercourse, the virus would have to be transferred through an open sore or wound in the mouth (extremely rare), the vagina, or the anus. This means a person won’t end up with HIV through close encounters, casual touches, sneezes, or coughs.
Who Can Get HIV
Another common belief about the virus is that it is only contracted by gay people. The truth is that anyone can get HIV, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. The fact that heterosexual women contracting HIV is on the rise makes this revelation quite clear, though also troubling.
Safety of Sex
There is, of course, the assumption that if someone has HIV, he or she should just stop having sex altogether. On the other hand, the person who is not living with HIV is advised that he or she should avoid having sex with someone who has the virus, and that they should do so at all costs.
However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. With the proper use of a condom and an informed mind, we understand that the chance of contracting HIV is significantly reduced. As a matter of fact, a person’s chance of contracting the virus during sexual intercourse is extremely low if their partner is on medication and virally suppressed, if the HIV-negative partner is on PrEP, and/or if the couple uses a condom properly.
It’s time to let the world know the truth about HIV rumors. It’s not an easy virus to contract, and it’s not the end of the world if a person does become infected. Fortunately, we now know that anyone living with HIV can have a great quality of life and still be able to enjoy safe sexual relations with other people.