Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a disease that affects the immune system of men. It is caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). A person with this condition has a very weak immune system that makes him sensitive to a number of infections. As per AVERT statistics in 2009, there are around 33.3 million AIDS affected people in the world. The number of deaths due to AIDS is 1.8 million per year. There is no cure for this disease as yet. However, there are a number of treatments which retards the progress of the disease. There are many myths and misconceptions that shroud this disease. Following are some of the myths about HIV/AIDS and the actual facts:
1. HIV and AIDS are same
While HIV is a virus, AIDS is a group of illnesses. HIV is often referred to as AIDS virus and the terms are used interchangeably. However, AIDS and HIV are not the same. Studies have proved that HIV causes AIDS which weakens the human immune system which exposes the body to many infections.
2. HIV positive people can infect you with AIDS
You can get infected with HIV virus through unsafe sex, breast milk, prenatal transmission (virus transmission from mother to her baby), vaginal secretions and contaminated needles. HIV cannot be spread through casual contact in daily life such as shaking hands, hugging or kissing. It is not spread by air or water. Neither is it spread through mosquito and insect bites. You can safely share a meal or a drink with a HIV positive person.
3. Taking advance medicines can cure AIDS
There are many medicines and treatments which lessen the effects of the disease. However, it is noted that there is no cure for HIV as this virus cannot be eradicated fully from human body. HIV thrives in the body even with administration of medicine, thus making the virus drug-resistant. The advance treatment makes the virus to remain latent in the body.
4. An HIV-infected woman cannot bear children
If HIV-infected woman follows the medical guidelines carefully, she can get pregnant and successfully give birth to a child. The risk of transmission of disease from a mother to an unborn child is around fifteen to thirty percent. However, being conscious of the risks and working closely with a medical professional will reduce this risk to 2-3 percent.
5. Protection is not required for an HIV-infected couple
This statement is false. HIV re-infection is possible due to practice of unsafe sex. If a person gets reinfected with a different strain of HIV through unsafe sex, the infection could potentially get more complicated and ineffective. The thumb rule is to avoid reinfection by practicing safe sex every time.
6. Oral sex does not transmit HIV
This fact is only partly true. Oral sex does not have much risk in transmitting the virus. However, one can get HIV by having oral sex with a partner who is HIV positive. Transmission of virus is possible in case of open cuts or wounds in genitals, mouth where there is contact between the open skins or the mouth. It is always better to have protection even while having oral sex to avoid complications.
7. Only homosexuals and drug users can get infected with HIV
HIV can infect anybody, irrespective of age, sex and gender. Most people get infected through the use of drugs and sexual contact. It is documented that homosexuals have higher number of sexual partners and they use less protection. However, this does not mean that heterosexuals run lower risk of contracting HIV. It is quite essential that both homo as well as heterosexuals always use protection.
8. A person being treated for HIV cannot spread the disease
HIV treatment can lessen the intensity of the virus in human system. Studies show that the potency of the virus is still latent in other areas of the body. Hence, it is necessary to always practice safe sex to prevent reinfections.
9. AIDS tests cannot be trusted
HIV antibodies are measured using AIDS tests. An infected human body produces antibodies against HIV. ELISA is one of the highly reliable medical test. Before a antibody test is reported as positive, one more test called Western blot is performed. The accuracy of western blot and the antibody test is proven to be greater than 99 percent.
10. HIV/AIDS is a death sentence
Couple of decades back, the death rate was very high due to HIV infection. However, today’s medications have reduced the death rate by about eighty percent. With proper medication, treatment and monitoring, an infected person can have a longer life span.