HIV/AIDS is a set of conditions caused by an infection from the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The affected individual may not experience any signs for a prolonged period from the time of infection, till the infection progresses and affects the immune system. As the immunity of the person lowers, he or she becomes susceptible to various kinds of infections that prove to be life-threatening.  The latter stage of HIV is known as AIDS; the stage is often linked to rapid weight loss.  Only a lab test by pathology services can confirm if a person is HIV positive.

While there has been a marked progress in the treatment for HIV/AIDS, the stigma attached to the disease leads to social isolation and ostracizing for the patient.   The myths linked to the disease are mainly responsible for misplaced outlook towards the illness.

HIV is spread through unprotected sex, from injecting needles that have infected the blood, infected blood donations or organ transplants; and from the mother to the child during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Myths about HIV/AIDS:

  1. HIV is AIDS – HIV is an infection that can lead to AIDS. But it does not imply that all HIV positive people will end up having AIDS. Fundamentally speaking, HIV is the virus and AIDS is a set of diseases that a person gets where there is a drastic dip in the immunity due to the viral infection.  In fact, HIV mushrooms into the AIDS, when an HIV-infected person is not treated with antiretroviral drugs. The HIV-infected patient has to follow up with the doctor regularly and the latter has to keep track of the patient’s CD4 counts to ensure that the patient does not contract AIDS.
  2. HIV/AIDS has a cure- There have been progressive advances in the medical world to treat HIV but there is no cure for HIV or AIDS. The doctor can help control the spread of infection, keep the CD4 count down and prescribe medication to thwart opportunistic infections. Having said that being HIV positive is no death sentence.  While there is no cure, modern medicine has come up with treatment options to prolong life and lead a healthy existence.
  3. Being around HIV-infected people can give me HIV – Medical evidence and laboratory tests show that the HIV virus cannot spread through touch, saliva, sweat, urine or feces.  So touching a device that has been handled by an HIV person, breathing the same air as him/her, sharing utensils, drinking water from their bottles, hugging, kissing, mosquito bites, sneezing, or even mutual masturbation cannot cause HIV.   The virus cannot survive in the air.  However, one should remember that though social kissing does not lead to spreading of HIV, intimate kissing may be a risk if there are open sores or bleeding gums, and blood is exchanged during the act.
  4. Can having oral sex cause AIDS? – Though oral sex is less likely than vaginal or anal sex to cause AIDS; HIV can still enter the body through sores or cuts in the mouth. So, you should always use a latex barrier while having oral sex.
  5. It is easy to spot a person who has HIV, he or she looks weak – This is one of the biggest misconceptions about an HIV positive person. A person who has HIV may look outwardly healthy with no symptoms for up to ten years.  Since the virus affects people differently, the only way one can be really sure is by taking diagnostic tests.

It is always recommended to do a health check and has diagnostic tests conducted to know about your HIV status.  When you do this, you are not only safeguarding your own life but also saving your potential partner’s life. Contact a trusted center for diagnostic services for more information on HIV and AIDS testing.

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