6 myths about HIV and AIDS

Infectious Disease

Dr. Chris Beyrer, president of the International AIDS Society, said that this year’s World’s AIDS Day was the most hopeful one ever. But still, there is no cure, and no vaccine against HIV or AIDS. Many people are still misinformed, and here are some common myths:

If you are infected with HIV, you know it

Not true. Many people infected with the virus do not know they are infected. This is one of the reasons the epidemic is still a huge problem. People who don’t’ know they are infected, often continue to have unsafe sex and infect others. People who are infected with HIV may feel and look healthy, and it is typically only years later when the HIV infection progresses to full-blown AIDS that the person begins to feel or look ill.

In 2013, it is estimated that 734,000 Brazilians were infected with the HIV virus, but only 589,000 of those were aware they were infected.

If you are infected with HIV, you don’t need to start treatment until you are sick

Not true. It has been proven that the sooner that the drug therapy “cocktail” is started, the better the person with HIV will do. The World Health Organization now recommends that the cocktail be started as soon as the person discovers they have HIV. And, considering the public health, people with HIV who are on the cocktail are 96% less likely to pass HIV to their sexual partners, since the medication suppresses the virus so effectively.

You cannot get HIV from tattoos or body piercing

Not true. Having a tattoo or a body piercing done in a non-sterile manner can infect you with HIV, as well as a form of hepatitis that is life-threatening. So, you need to make sure that the person you trust for tattoos or piercings is using only sterilized needles and equipment.

Mosquitos might be able to spread HIV

Not true. There is no evidence that mosquitos spread HIV. There are many other illnesses that can be spread by mosquitos, but HIV is not one of them.

If you have HIV, you will die from AIDS

Not true. While there still is no cure, especially if the drug cocktail is started early, people with HIV may be able to live a normal lifespan. Even people who discover that they are HIV positive much later, will have a healthier and longer life if they start treatment as soon as they are aware.

HIV is no longer a problem, it is better to just ignore the issue

Not true. The best advice is to get tested at a health center if you are sexually active or have other HIV risk factors, and if you are positive, start treatment right away. If you are sexually active and HIV negative, you should continue to have safer sex using condoms. The person you have sex with may look normal but still be infected.

Finally, if you are HIV negative but believe you might have been accidently exposed to the HIV virus, you should go to your nearest health center without delay. Treatment started within 72 hours of exposure can prevent you from becoming HIV positive.

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See also in ProcuraMed:

When is the best time to start HIV treatment?

A daily pill to prevent AIDS?

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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