HIV/AIDS is one of the most dangerous diseases in the world. It causes the death of millions each year and it still does not have an absolute cure.
HIV/AIDS patients can be seniors, teenagers, adults, and even babies whose mothers had HIV/AIDS during pregnancy.
Although HIV/AIDS is widespread in today’s society, there are still many misconceptions about it.
What is HIV/AIDS?
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 cells (T cells), which help the immune system prevent infections.
Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells, that the body can’t fight off infections and diseases.
In worst case scenarios, if it is treated ineffectively, HIV can mass decrease the number of T cells in the body, making the patient more susceptible to infections or other diseases ranging from mild to serious.
People contract HIV if infected blood, semen, or vaginal secretions penetrate into their body through sexual intercourse, blood transfusions or the sharing of needles.
In other cases, HIV/AIDS transfers from mother to child through childbirth or breastfeeding.
Misconceptions about HIV/AIDS
• HIV is a death sentence. This is not really true in present times thanks to modern technology and efficient treatment. Today, HIV can be considered a manageable chronic illness.
• HIV can be transferred by kissing. This is only true if the person you are kissing has a wound or is bleeding in their mouth or lips. Overall, the transmission rate through kissing is significantly low.
• HIV is similar to AIDS. Due to the development of modern treatments these days, patients with HIV no longer have AIDS. A person who starts HIV treatment early after testing can live a nearly normal life like others.
• People with HIV cannot have sex with people who do not. In fact, the two can still have safe sex with condoms if the one with HIV is on treatment and achieves an undetectable viral load. The risk of transmitting the virus then is almost zero.
• HIV will automatically spread to an unborn baby. A woman currently undergoing treatment has only about a 2% chance of having an HIV-positive baby.
• HIV can’t be transmitted through oral sex. Although the risk of infection via oral sex is low, the possibility of contracting HIV is still there.
Your risk will significantly increase if your partner has open sores as well as bleeding or broken skin that comes in direct contact with semen.
• HIV can be spread through saliva, sweat, tears and toilet seats. HIV only spreads through semen, vaginal fluid, blood or breastmilk from an HIV-infected person.
This article first appeared in hellodoktor.com and was reviewed by Dr Duyen Le. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.