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World AIDS Day 2023: 12 common myths about HIV and AIDS busted, Key facts you need to know

World AIDS Day is observed every year on December 1 to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS. 

Several myths surround HIV/AIDS patients that need to be fact-checked. A social stigma resonates within the society that mere touch of those affected with the disease would lead to transmission of the virus. However, the virus is transmissible only through the exchange of bodily fluids such as blood, breast milk, semen or vaginal secretions from patients.  

Also read: To end AIDS, high-risk countries will need to jab schoolgirls

Consultant Physician at Hyderabad’s Yashoda Hospitals, Dr Dilip Gude, helped debunk some of these myths.

  1. It is a myth that HIV gets transmitted via cough, touch, and shaking hands. However, routine touch or cough does not transmit HIV, the virus can only be transmitted if the skin has ulcerations or abrasions.

2. It is a myth that those diagnosed with HIV will die in a few months. However, those diagnosed with HIV can live for several years with the help of medicines for long-term viral suppression

3. It is a myth that children born to HIV-positive women will invariably be HIV-positive. However, the risk of transmission of the virus to new-borns can be brought down to less than 2% with antiretroviral treatment and C-section and by taking other precautionary measures. 

Also read: Around 450 patients at Massachusetts Hospital may exposed to HIV, hepatitis: Report

4. It is a myth that HIV is a viral disease and antibacterial or antifungal medicines will be of no use. Those infected with HIV can easily catch common innocuous bacteria and fungi attacks as their immunity is compromised with the virus. Hence, antibacterial and/or antifungal medicines may be required long term.

5. It is a myth that there is no risk if two or more HIV-positive patients get intimate. However, unprotected sex promotes the evolution and transmission of dangerous strains of HIV.

Also read: India poised to end AIDS epidemic, says UNAIDS country director

6. It is a myth that asymptomatic individuals with HIV do not have HIV. it may take years for HIV to manifest symptomatically and can only be diagnosed through a test  .

7. It is a myth medicines taken before intercourse can prevent HIV transmission. However, pre-exposure prophylaxis minimizes risk but the risk is not eliminated completely.

8. It is a myth that sharing food, drink, and cooking utensils with an HIV-infected patient increases one’s risk of getting HIV. the virus can’t be passed on through these activities even if the person preparing food is living with HIV.

9. It is a myth that one need not worry about preventive aspects like safe sex even after being diagnosed as HIV-negative but belonging to a high-risk group. In fact, in some high-risk patients, it is important to check with multiple tests like the GP24 assay and repeat antibodies test in 3 to 6 months as the body takes time to develop antibodies.

Also read: Study reveals new strategy to create an effective HIV vaccine

10. It is a myth that HIV can be transmitted through infected insects and pets. However, this myth is untrue.

11. It is a myth that blood transfusions raise the risk of HIV. However, with recent stringent precautions and testing the risk now is almost zero.

12. It is a myth that the virus-infected person undergoing treatment cannot spread the virus. A person carrying HIV can still be infectious despite treatment though treatments can lower the amount of virus to a negligible level.


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Updated: 01 Dec 2023, 08:09 AM IST


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