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7 Common Myths People Should Stop Believing About HIV

Read the truths behind these myths.

It’s common knowledge how, to this day, misconceptions about HIV are more known than the truths behind them. Merely talking about HIV is still considered highly controversial and taboo — a reason why its depiction and how it is transmitted has always been unclear. With this in mind, it’s high time we break the ice and end the stigma by learning the truths behind a few common myths.

MYTH: HIV and AIDS are the same.
FACT: Contracting HIV can lead to the development of AIDS.
HIV and AIDS are not the same thing. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus, and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is the condition resulted from having HIV. You can have HIV without it developing into AIDS, but it’s not possible to have AIDS without HIV. Early treatment is key for  Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV) to control the development of AIDS. 

MYTH: Being around HIV-positive people puts you at risk of acquiring HIV.
FACT: HIV isn’t spread through touch, sweat, saliva, nor pee.
HIV can’t be passed on that easily. It can only be transmitted through bodily fluids that contain enough HIV such as through sexual intercourse, transfusion of infected blood, infected needle or syringe, and through breast milk. 

MYTH: HIV is a disease of gay men.
FACT: Anyone who is not practicing safe sex is at risk of acquiring HIV.
HIV does not solely affect gay men. No matter what your sexual orientation is, whether you are young or old, or who your partner is, you can get infected with HIV if you are unaware of you and your partner’s conditions. Acknowledging that anyone can get infected is a small step in ending a lifelong stigma. 

MYTH: Being HIV-positive means it’s the end for you. 
FACT: People living with HIV can live a normal life. 
HIV is no longer a death sentence. Years of research led to a better understanding of HIV, how it’s transmitted, and how it can be managed. With proper treatment and medication, PLHIVs can live long, healthy, and normal lives. (Read: HIV Treatment)

MYTH: People living with HIV can’t have a family.
FACT: It is possible to have children while living with HIV. 
Again, a better understanding of HIV and medical advancements has made it possible for PLHIVs to have children. Different options are now available on ways to conceive depending on which partner is infected. There are now ways on how HIV-positive mothers can lessen the transmission of HIV to their baby with a low chance rate of 1% or less. 

MYTH: Having sex with someone who is HIV-positive means you will get HIV.
FACT:  You can stay negative even if you have sex with someone who is HIV-positive.
Taking necessary precautionary measures such as using a condom when having sex significantly decreases the chances of HIV transmission. Aside from this, if you are HIV-negative, taking PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis), while your partner who is HIV-positive and is taking an antiretroviral drug, will significantly reduce the viral load. 

MYTH: If my partner and I are both HIV-positive, we do not need to wear condoms.
FACT: Using a condom when both partners are HIV-positive is still necessary.
Even though both of you are undergoing HIV treatment, these treatments will not protect you from pregnancy and other sexually transmitted infections. It’s possible for someone who is HIV-positive to become infected with a second strain of HIV. Being infected with another strain of HIV may affect your regiment and cause your treatment plan to fail.

It’s time we break the taboo around sexual and reproductive health. #MayKwentoAko starts the convo. If you have stories you want to share, feel free to submit them below to start positive discussions.

May Kwento Ako

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