We live in a society where contracting HIV/AIDS is often considered to be a death sentence. People suffering from HIV or AIDS are often ousted from the society and are treated as outcasts. This sense of disgust and rejection is, most often, a result of fear and a lack of knowledge about this condition among people.
What is HIV/AIDS?
Contrary to common perception that HIV and AIDS are the same, in reality, one precedes the other.
AIDS – Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome: Is a chronic, irreversible and potentially life-threatening condition, which is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or, as we know it, HIV. This virus damages the body’s immune system, interfering with the body’s ability to fight diseases.
HIV – Human Immunodeficiency Virus: Is a virus, which weakens the body’s immune system and damages its ability to fight diseases. This virus can spread during unprotected sex or needle sharing with an infected person. It can also spread when coming in contact with the infected blood or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.
Even though they are related, HIV infection doesn’t necessary mean that a person has AIDS. It is a term which applies to the most advanced stages of HIV infection. Without medication, it may take years before HIV weakens a person’s immune system to the point that they develop AIDS.
According to World Health Organisation, approximately 36.7 million people in this world are HIV positive. Hence there is a need to rise above the myths and rumours and put the common misconceptions surrounding this life-threatening condition, to rest.
Here are 5 common myths surrounding HIV/AIDS:
MYTH 1: HIV/AIDS is contagious and can spread through non-sexual physical contact like hugging, handshakes, sharing toilet seats, and from mosquito bites.
FACT 1: HIV virus can only be transmitted, from one individual to the other, through sexual contact or when coming in contact with infected blood. One cannot contract an HIV infection from kissing, hugging and sharing toilet seats with a person. Similarly, when a mosquito bites an individual it only sucks blood and doesn’t inject it.
MYTH 2: HIV/AIDS cannot be transmitted during oral sex.
FACT 2: Transmission of HIV/AIDS occurs when there is an exchange of body fluids like blood, semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk, etc and this is possible during oral sex. It is best to avoid oral sex when one has cuts, sores, abrasions or any known history of sexually transmitted infection. When engaging in oral sex, using a condom is a must.
MYTH 3: Homosexual men, drug users and sex workers are more likely to get infected with HIV/AIDS than other people.
FACT 3: Research suggests that in Singapore alone 90% of all HIV infections occur through sexual intercourse, out of which, 60% result from heterosexual intercourse. HIV/AIDS spreads mostly through unprotected sexual intercourse and does not differentiate against anyone. Regardless of your individuality or gender, you may be at a risk of HIV virus contraction if you don’t take the necessary protective measures.
MYTH 4: Infected mothers will always transmit HIV infection to their infant.
FACT 4: Recent developments in the field have successfully stopped transmission of the virus from mother to the foetus. Research suggests that if an expecting mother takes HIV drugs and is virally suppressed, it reduces the risk of transmission by less than one in 100 cases.
MYTH 5: Contracting HIV/AIDS means your life has come to an end.
FACT 5: Earlier, with limited awareness and zero medical care available, the mortality rate of people with HIV/AIDS was quite high. There is no known cure for this disease even today. But with medication, care, support and tremendous progress in treatment options for HIV/AIDS, life expectancy of a person living with it has improved.
People with HIV/AIDS also deserve a chance to live their lives without being judged and discriminated. They need to be treated with love and care. A simple blood test can help save several lives and prevent this infection from spreading. Stay a step ahead of diseases and opt for an Apollo Health check package today!