- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Misconceptions About HIV and AIDS
HIV and AIDS
We all know by now that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that makes a person to get AIDS. Simply put, HIV causes AIDS. Therefore this means that one cannot get AIDS without HIV. According to health experts, when a person has AIDS, his or her immune system becomes too weak to fight infections and other diseases.
HIV is mainly contracted through having unprotected intercourse with an HIV-positive person. You can also get HIV from an infected blood, sharing needles with an infected person, an infected mother can pass it to her baby through her milk, etc.
The things I have just mentioned above are things we probably all know about HIV and AIDS. However, there are several other things that many people aren’t too sure or simply don’t know about this dangerous disease. As a result of the misconceptions many people have about HIV and AIDS, some end up engaging in certain behaviors that increase their risks of catching the disease.
Common myths and misconceptions about HIV and AIDS
Without further ado, here are some of the most common misconceptions about HIV and AIDS.
HIV can be transmitted through kissing
Sadly, many people are of the misconception that HIV can be passed on from one person to another through kissing. Here, they think that if an uninfected person kisses an infected person, then the HIV from the infected person can be transferred to the uninfected person. This isn’t true because several studies have shown that HIV cannot be spread from one person to another through kissing. Neither can you get HIV by through the tears and sweat of an infected person. Also, you cannot get HIV when you shake the hands of a person who is HIV-positive.
Mosquitoes and other bloodsucking insects can transmit HIV
Another very big misconception about HIV is the belief that mosquitoes and other bloodsucking insects have the ability to spread HIV. People think that when a mosquito bites someone with HIV and goes on to bite another person without HIV, the mosquito can spread the HIV virus from the infected person to the uninfected person. This is totally not true. Several scientific studies have been conducted into finding out whether it is possible for mosquitoes can spread HIV, and so far not a single one of these studies has shown that it is possible for mosquitoes and other bloodsucking insects to spread HIV. The reason why mosquitoes cannot spread HIV is because of the fact that when mosquitoes or other bloodsucking insects bite and draw the blood of a person who has HIV, the HIV cannot live in a long time inside the insects. Also, when a mosquito bites and draws the blood from one person or animal, they do not inject the blood of that person into the next person or animal that they bite.
Herbal medicines can cure HIV
In many parts of Africa, many herbalists or traditional medicine makers claim that their herbal medicines are capable of curing HIV. This is totally false. So far, there has been no single proof that any herbal medicine or traditional medicine has been able to cure any HIV/AIDS patient. Sadly, as a result of this misconception, certain people living with HIV worsen their condition by refusing to go for antiretroviral drugs and spend their time and money on these herbal medicines that falsely claim to cure HIV. It is important that everyone know that despite the massive advancement in science, there is still no cure for HIV.
Your life is over the moment you get HIV
Many people think that the moment a person gets infected with HIV, he or she has just received a death sentence since the person is surely going to die. While this was sort of true several years ago, today it isn’t true. Having HIV doesn’t mean your life is over. Today, people living with HIV are capable of living long and normal lives because of antiretroviral drugs which are used to battle HIV infection. It is worth noting that antiretroviral drugs are not capable of curing HIV – they only fight the HIV infection and reduce its destructive power. Up until today there is no drug or medicine on Earth that can cure HIV and AIDS.
A person living with HIV cannot spread the virus if he or she is receiving treatment
Another very common misconception about HIV is that when a person is being treated with antiretroviral drugs, he or she is no longer capable of spreading HIV. The reason some people tend to believe this is simply because sometimes HIV treatments can work so well that they end up drastically reducing the virus in the patient’s blood to the point where sometimes the virus doesn’t show up in blood tests. But despite this, the virus still exists in the person. And this means that the person still has the virus and is capable of spreading it. There is still no HIV treatment on Earth that is capable of completely get rid of the virus from an infected person’s system.
Since I am already HIV-positive I can carry on with risky behavior without any consequences
Many people think that once a person has HIV, they can decide to engage in behaviors that can expose them to HIV without any consequences. For example, John who is a HIV patient deciding to engage in a risky behavior like sharing infected needles or syringes and thinking that since he is already HIV-positive he doesn’t have to bother about any more infection. This is totally wrong! It is wrong because not only can he infect others with the virus but he can also get another infection from another person with the virus. Many people aren’t aware of the fact that a person, who is already HIV-positive, can reinfect himself or herself with another strain of the HIV virus. Being infected again with another strain of the virus can easily worsen an HIV patient’s problem since it would further weaken his or her immune system and make him or her more prone to suffering from all sorts of infections and diseases. On top of this, reinfecting oneself can render the old treatment one was on useless and make one need a new treatment for one’s condition. According to doctors, different strains of HIV require different drugs. This is the reason why HIV patients are always advised not to engage in behaviors that will see them increasing their risks of getting infected again and again because that will only worsen their problem.
HIV is a form of genocide
One of the craziest misconceptions about HIV is that the virus was invented by the American government to kill off blacks as a means of population control. The reason why some people believe this strange conspiracy theory is simply because in America, African Americans have a higher rate of HIV infection than whites. Also, the continent of Africa has more HIV patients than all the HIV patients in the rest of the world put together. This is particularly worse in Sub-Saharan Africa where according to the WHO, in 2013, about 24.7 million people were living with HIV. This number accounted for 70 percent of the total people living with HIV in the whole world.
Because of this, some people are of the belief that HIV was specially invented to kill Africans in order to control the population.
This is absolutely false because not only is there an absence of evidence to support this but also because there are many reasons why the rate of HIV infection is higher in Africa and certain minority groups in United States. For example, two of the biggest reasons why the rate of HIV infection is very high in Africa are because of a very weak health care system in many parts of Africa as a result of poverty and also the lack of much education about HIV and AIDS.
The above are some of the most common myths and conceptions about HIV and AIDS. It is worth noting that although these misconceptions about HIV and AIDS exist in many parts of the world, they are gradually fading away thanks to the fact that more and more awareness is being created about HIV and AIDS all over the world – especially in developing countries.
The more awareness about HIV and AIDS that is created, the more the misconceptions about the disease will fade away and the more HIV infection rates will reduce in future.