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Debunking Myths About HIV/AIDS... Know The Facts!!

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Ketan Ranpariya 97% (5489 ratings)
MBBS, PG Diploma (HIV Medicines)
HIV Specialist, Surat  •  17 years experience
Debunking Myths About HIV/AIDS... Know The Facts!!

Belief: H.I.V. & AIDS are both same. Fact: Both are different.

HIV is basically one type of Virus which is responsible for the infection. It means “Human Immuno Deficiency Virus. AIDS is the last stage after getting infected by HIV. This can be detected after 8 to 10 years of infection. It means Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome.

Belief: HIV is transferred by working or being in contact with HIV infected people. Fact: HIV is not transferred by Social contacts. HIV is not transferred by the given points:

  • By breathing in the same room & atmosphere.
  • By using common toilets & bathrooms.
  • By eating or drinking from the same utensils.
  • By hands shake or normal kissing.
  • HIV is transferred only by infected blood, sperms, vaginal fluid & breast milk.

Belief: If both husband & wife are HIV infected, no need to use a condom while physical relations. Fact: HIV can be of two types, namely HIV-1 & HIV-2. Husband & wife can get the infection from any of these two types of HIV. If a couple is not using a condom, one or both of them can have the infection of another type of virus. It is possible that the type of virus which is drug resistant i.e. having very little effect of medicines may infect the other partner hence condom must be used.

Belief: HIV infection is mostly seen in sex workers & not found in common people. Fact: In the decade of 1980 & 1990, the HIV infection was found to have infected more sex workers & less common people. But by Public Awareness Programmes & other relevant schemes of the Government, infection of HIV is reduced by 80% in sex workers. While the infection of HIV is found to have increased in common people. HIV is not related to work or religion of the person. HIV can be found in any person who is related to the following activities -

  • Having unsafe physical relations
  • By transferring the infected blood
  • By injecting the infected needle
  • By feeding the baby from the infected mother

Belief: HIV infection means death. Fact: Not true. It is true that the HIV virus cannot be removed from the body of the infected person but the science has at least proved that HIV virus can easily be controlled by medicines. By proper medications, one can lead a normal life & early death can also be avoided. By recently invented 30 medicines, one can remain free of AIDS for the whole life.

Belief: HIV negative report proves a person to be HIV free. Fact: Not true. One can have HIV infection even though having negative blood report. For confirmation, one has to retest blood after three months & should be free of any risky activities during these months.

Belief: HIV is not transferred by the person under medication of HIV. Fact: Due to ART (Anti-retroviral Therapy) the virus is highly reduced but are never abolished from the body. Hence the chances of infection are low but are not at all zero.

Belief: Chances of HIV are zero by relations with a reliable & healthy partner. Fact: The infection of HIV can develop symptoms from 8 to 10 years. HIV can be transferred not only by physical relations but also by infected blood or infected needle.

Belief: The Oral Sex does not lead to transfer HIV. Fact: HIV can also be transferred by Oral Sex. HIV is mainly transferred through sperms, vaginal fluid, mothers’ milk & blood transfer. If one has a cut or ulcer or swelling of gums or oral or throat infection, the HIV in the sperm of the infected partner can infect the blood of the other partner through these oral infections which finally leads to HIV infection.

Belief: HIV can be cured by Ayurvedic or other conservative medicines. Fact: No person till today is cured of HIV. HIV infected patient or any patient of the chronic disease are frustrated & are tired mentally, physically & financially too. Some cheaters make dangerous plays with the life of frustrated patients by fake promises & false guarantee to fill their pockets. It is a very humble request that never let any Tom, Dick & Harry to play with your life under false promises. This will only lead to physical & financial loss only.

Belief: HIV infection is possible by kissing. Fact: This has both possibilities. The infection depends on the type of kissing. The French kiss or open mouth kiss may lead to infection but very rarely. If both are having cuts, ulcers in the mouth or both having throat or oral infection, that may lead to infection but chances are very less.

Belief: Contraceptive pills can prevent the infection hence one need not use the condom. Fact: This is wrong. The contraceptive pill works on the Ovary & restricts the new formations while HIV virus enters through the vagina. A condom prevents the contact of sperm & vagina. Thus condom works as contraception as well as HIV protection. While pills work only as contraception.

Belief: One cannot have more than one venereal disease. Fact: One can have more than one venereal disease. If one has not obtained treatment for venereal disease, the chances of HIV infection are 6 to 10 times more. If any ulcer has developed due to venereal disease, the chances are raised to 10 to 300 times.

Belief: If one has HIV & other has not, then safe sex is not possible & such couples should not have physical relations. Fact: A physical relation is the prime need of married life. It is required to make the physical relations safe & save one non-HIV partner from HIV infection. This can be achieved by use of condoms. The couple can have safe sex with a use of condoms.

Belief: The test for HIV should not be done. If it comes positive than what one shall do? Fact: By learning about HIV positivity one can have timely treatment & can lead a normal life with ART medicines. In the counseling for HIV test, one is explained about the HIV & other venereal diseases which will help you to live a healthy life.

Belief: HIV can be transferred by mosquito bites. Fact: HIV virus has very short life (less than one minute) outside the human body. As such mosquitoes suck the blood from our body & does not inject hence mosquito bite cannot be the cause of HIV.

Belief: An HIV-infected woman should not give birth to a child as the newly born shall have HIV. Fact: If HIV-infected woman is not under treatment, the newly born baby has 30% to 45% chances of HIV. If the woman is under ART medications, her delivery is done by caesarean section & infant is given medicines & by proper modifications in feeding, the chances of HIV are reduced to 2% from 45%. Thus by proper treatment 98 % chances are there for the infected woman to deliver HIV-free baby.

Belief: HIV can be cured by physical relations with virgin girls. Fact: This type of belief does not prevail in our country but this type of belief prevails in African Continent. This has no scientific logic & is impossible to be true. Instead of the abolition of HIV, the girl can have HIV infection.

Belief: HIV can be cured by physical relations with animals. Fact: This type of belief does not prevail in our country but this type of belief prevails in African Continent. This has no scientific logic & is impossible to be true.

Belief: HIV medicines are very costly & not affordable by the middle-class people. Fact: In the present market, various companies have launched the medicines for HIV. This has resulted in the reduction of cost of medicines. The medicine for a month can be purchased for Rs.1000.00 to 1500.00.

Belief: HIV medicines have side effects which can cause trouble to the patient. Fact: This is not true. But the fact is that HIV medicines do have side effects but every medicine does not have it & every patient may not suffer from it. Generally, some patients may suffer normal side effects for 5 to 30 days. But as time goes 98% of people will be free of the side effects. If the side effects prevail, then the medicines may be changed as per the advice of the doctor. In some rare cases in side effects are serious; the medicines can be altogether changed & other suitable medicines are prescribed. Thus whenever there is a side effect observed to a patient, one should not either change the medicines or stop using it. In such cases, the doctor may be consulted to get the suitable solutions by changing or altering the medicines. It is not advisable to change or stop the medicines without consulting doctor.

Belief: HIV is transferred by placing the infected needle on the seats of the theatre. Fact: These types of rumors go viral by media like the internet through email, WhatsApp etc. HIV cannot be transferred like this as the virus has a very short life outside the human body. People should not pay attention to these types of rumors & should not spread these types of rumors.

Belief: HIV is transferred through cold drinks. Fact: These types of rumors go viral by media like the internet through email, WhatsApp etc. HIV cannot be transferred like this as virus are very sensitive & can survive only in human body, blood & some of the fluids of human parts. It has a very short life outside the human body. Hence it is impossible to transfer them through eatable items. People should not pay attention to these types of rumors & should not spread these them.

Belief: HIV medicines are to be used at the precise timings. People avoid medicines as they are not able to maintain the timings. Fact: The fixed time for intake of the medicine has reasoned that the effect of the medicine shall prevail between two successive doses. To obtain the maximum output, medicines are prescribed for 2,8,12 or 24 hours’ interval. One should try to follow the timings but should not avoid due to the fear of alteration in timings.

Belief: Person suffering from both T.B. & HIV should start the treatment of HIV only after completion of T.B. treatment. Fact: Normally, ART for HIV starts after six to eight weeks of the treatment of T.B. The reason being that the body shall adjust to the medicine within six to eight weeks. Any side effects of the medicines shall also be seen during this time & can be taken care of. During this period, T.B. Bacteria shall also be reduced & chances of complications arising out of it shall also be reduced. But this does not mean that the ART shall be started after completion of T.B. treatment. On the contrary, if the ART is not started after six to eight weeks, the effect of T.B. medicines shall not be seen as the immunity shall go on decreasing which results into the little effect of medicines. Hence if both T.B. & HIV are detected, the medicines for T.B. shall be started first & it is necessary to start the HIV medicines after six to eight weeks.

Belief: If intake of medicine is skipped, it does not matter. Fact: HIV is a virus & to keep it in control, the suitable medicine should be present all the time in the body. The growth of the virus is controlled due to the presence of this medicine only. If a dose is skipped, the growth of the virus shall start & frequent skipping of the doses for a long time will result into non-effect of medicine on the virus & infection will be beyond control. This has to be rectified by the change of the medicine which may be costly & may cause some saviour side effects.

Belief: HIV positive person having no trouble may not require any medicine. Fact: The time period between the infection & symptoms is 8 to 10 years. HIV drastically reduces the C.D.4 cells of immunity. They are reduced from 400-1500 to less than 200 due to HIV within 8 to 10 years. When this reduction process goes on in the body, body parts are damaged by HIV virus. The HIV virus damages the body parts internally though there may not be any obvious symptoms. Hence ART medicines for HIV should be started immediately on detection of HIV.

Belief: If an HIV-infected person gets involved in unsafe physical relations, the possibility of HIV transfer every time is 100%. Fact: This is most commonly observed misunderstanding. If one has HIV out of two persons involved in physical relations, chances of HIV infection for a single relation are just 1%. If the frequency of the unsafe physical relations increases, the chances of HIV infection increase. For the ease of understanding we can say that if a couple goes for unsafe physical relations 100 times, the chance of HIV infection is just once. As every physical relation does not result in the conception, in the same way, the chance of HIV infection is just 1%.

Belief: HIV positive person should not marry. Fact: This is a misunderstanding prevailing in the society.  An HIV-positive person can live a happy married life irrespective of his profession. He has to be careful of certain matter. HIV positive person has the moral responsibility to take care not to spread HIV to others. Generally, HIV positive person prefers to marry HIV positive person but in some rare cases, HIV-positive person is found to have married HIV negative person. In such cases, HIV-positive is morally bound to inform the healthy partner about the HIV positivity. The partner should be aware of the risks involved; undergoing treatment & necessary cares to be taken. HIV positive person should never hide HIV positivity to his/her partner to avoid the risk of transfer of HIV to healthy partner. HIV positivity is a fact that cannot be hidden for a long time & once it comes out, the marriage shall end. Thus, the HIV-positive person should have a counseling of a doctor before the marriage.

Belief: Pharmaceutical companies have invented the medicines to cure HIV but are not launching them with the intention to earn more through present medicines. Fact: Some people believe in this type of rumors. Actually, companies can earn lot more by selling HIV abolishing medicines rather than controlling drugs. Hence this is a totally baseless rumor.

Belief: HIV can be transferred by shaving blade or toothbrush. Fact: Not a single case is recorded till date in which HIV is transferred through blade or toothbrush. HIV is not transferred through blade or toothbrush but it does not mean that one should use the blade & brush of HIV-positive person because HIV may not be transferred but some other diseases may be transferred through blade & brush.

Belief: HIV can be transferred by Fish pedicure. Fact: HIV virus cannot survive outside human body hence HIV cannot be transferred by Fish pedicure. People should not believe in this type of fake rumors.

Belief: If HIV is detected, the society shall be informed by laboratory staff & doctors which will ruin the social prestige. Fact: Many people are aware that they were involved in the activities which may lead to HIV. They are aware that they may have HIV but avoid the test for HIV with a fear of declaration to the society & thereby potential damage to their social prestige. This fear is not genuine as staff, doctor of laboratories are very sincere & are very careful. The result of the test is not disclosed to any other except the person himself. Details of the test are kept a secret & not disclosed to anyone without permission of the person. Those who avoid the HIV test due to the above fear should come forward & should go for HIV test at once.

Belief: Every HIV-infected person suffers AIDS. Fact: The HIV was found before 33 years. Initially, every HIV positive person used to suffer from AIDS. Presently, science has invented many medicines for HIV. Nearly 30 medicines are available in the world for HIV out of which 15 medicines are available in India. Presently, HIV positive person is given a single tablet comprising of three different drugs. Formerly, the patient was supposed to have 32 tablets per day but as scientific developments, the person has to have a single tablet per day. This ART drugs are not able to abolish HIV completely but restricts the growth of virus & thereby reduces the present virus to 99%. As HIV is not totally abolished, the patient is supposed to continue the medicine throughout the life. If HIV is detected in the early stage & medication is started immediately with a punctual consumption, the HIV does not lead to AIDS. Thus HIV shall lead to AIDS or not depends on the stage of detection, the stage of medication i.e. number of C.D.4 cells at the time of starting the medication, regular check-up & clinical inspection.

Belief: HIV is found only in poor & in some specified class only. Fact: This is a totally wrong belief. HIV can infect any person from any class, any gender or from any profession. HIV infection is caused by:

  1. Unsafe sexual relations
  2. By use of HIV infected needle
  3. By blood transfer from HIV-infected person
  4. Infants b an infected woman.

Thus, HIV infection can happen to any person from any class, any profession, and any religion. This depends on the activities in which a person is involved.

Belief: HIV is transferred through unsafe sexual relations only. Fact: Whenever a person is known to have HIV, people generally believes him to be characterless. They believe that he must have been involved in the unsafe sexual relations. But in every case this may not be true. Sometimes, HIV is transferred through infected needle, or infected blood transfusion & the person may be totally innocent. Out of total HIV infected women in India, 85% are innocent as they are infected by their husbands who are involved in unsafe relations outside. Thus every HIV person is not to be suspected as of bad character. The HIV patients highly need love, sympathy & trust from the society.

Belief: It is not required to change the syringe of an injection. Only needle is to be changed to prevent HIV infection. Fact: This belief prevails even among the doctors & hospital staff. Every time both syringe & needle are to be changed. There are chances of HIV infection if only needle is changed.

Belief: HIV infected people are always sick & have a very short life. Fact: This is not true. Normally symptoms of HIV are not seen till 8 to 10 years of infection. During these 8-10 years virus causes internal damage to various body organs. When the damage exceeds, the symptoms become visible. If the detection & medication are at the early time, person may lead his whole life healthily. One has to remember to continue the medicines for whole life & that too regularly.

Belief: HIV is found only in young people & old ones are safe from HIV. Fact: HIV infection can happen to anybody at any age. It depends on the activities done by individual. Generally people believe that olds do not need to have sexual relations but it is not true. Off course, such people may not be less in numbers.

Belief: HIV leads to death only & hence medicines are useless. Fact: Presently, there are 30 medicines available in the market for HIV. Person can lead healthy life with the help of these medicines. Person should have a positive attitude & should consult doctors for proper medications.

Belief: HIV is transferred by using the same swimming pool. Fact: HIV virus is very sensitive & cannot survive outside the human body. Virus cannot survive in water & hence they will not be able to infect others. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a sexologist.

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