Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV has caused one of the biggest public health issues globally since its emergence. In the year 2019, HIV has infected more than 38 million people in the world. There have also been many advancements towards the management of HIV, throughout the years, yet there are still some myths about HIV that has misled many people.
However, despite the way HIV has affected the status of public health worldwide, many people still do not know about key aspects of the disease. A lot of misconceptions about HIV is still plaguing the world, and this has also led to more infections and other societal problems such as discrimination towards people living with HIV.
Thus, we have listed few myths about HIV and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) which is the disease caused by the virus.
1. A person with HIV can be identified through his/her looks
People often associate HIV with stereotypical symptoms which might reflect on their looks. However, this is not true since the symptoms of HIV infection is often similar to those one gets from other viral infections. These symptoms include, fever, fatigue or malaise.
However, when people say someone looks like he/she has HIV, it is usually due to the symptoms caused by AIDS-related complications. But since the introduction of antiretroviral medications which can help manage HIV, a person living with HIV ans is receiving treatment looks no different than other people or individuals who have chronic health diseases, Healthline reported.
2. HIV does not infect straight people
While it is true that HIV is more prevalent in men who engage in same-sex intercourse and that the transmission rate of HIV is higher in the LGBTQ Community, it does not mean that the myth about straight people being safe from HIV is true.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2018, 69% of HIV cases in the US are from gay, bisexual and other men engaging in same sex intercourse. However, it was also stated that on the same year, 24% of HIV diagnoses were heterosexuals. This only means that HIV does not choose any gender when it comes to infection and everyone exposed to the virus is susceptible.
3. HIV equals AIDS.
HIV causes AIDS, but this does not immediately mean that all individuals who are living with HIV will become ill with AIDS. AIDS is a result of the immune system becoming vulnerable tot he attacks of HIV resulting to a weakened immune response. This makes a person more susceptible to opportunistic infections. However, if the HIV infection is managed during its early stages, there is a huge possibility that it will not lead to AIDS.
4. Medical Advancements have rendered HIV irrelevant
This is not true. Despite the many advancements towards managing HIV, there is still no cure for the virus. This means that the virus can still cause major health risks and complications. A person with HIV is at risk of more infections since the immune system is compromised.
5. Having HIV is a death sentence
According to Kaiser Permanente's national director of HIV/AIDS, Dr. Michael Horberg, People with HIV can expect to live a normal lifespan as long as they receive proper treatment. To debunk the myth, this means that being HIV-positive is not like being sentenced to death.
Knowing that one has HIV earlier is better since it can be managed earlier which might help in preventing the development of AIDS and other AIDS-related complications. Getting tested for HIV can actually save a life.
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