Busting the Common HIV Myths

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome) have killed almost 39 million people since 1981. Over 35 million people are currently living with the infection worldwide. Half of them are not even aware that they are carrying the virus in their blood. Despite being a major health concern, the disease continues to be plagued by misinformation. It is high time that you focus on the facts instead of simply buying into longstanding myths regarding the transmission of the disease. You can visit any clinic to know more about HIV and stop the spread of misinformation.

How HIV Gets Transmitted through Bodily Fluids

An infected individual passes HIV to another only under certain conditions; simply coming into contact with them will not automatically infect you, despite what you’ve been told. HIV is transmitted through certain body fluids such as semen, blood, breast milk, rectal and vaginal secretions.  These fluids contain a high percentage of HIV antibodies. HIV gets transmitted when fluids from an infected individual pass through cuts, mucous membranes, or open sores of a non-infected person. HIV virus may also be passed via spinal cord or amniotic fluids, and hence pose a threat to healthcare professionals, who are exposed to such fluids. However, bodily fluids like saliva and tears are unable to spread the infection if they aren’t mixed with the infected fluids.

Transmission Procedure

HIV spreads through vaginal sex. Some cases have also been reported owing to oral sex. However, the highest risk comes from anal sex. Anal sex presents a greater chance of bleeding due to the soft tissues lining the anus. This provides the virus with a better shot of entering the body. It is also possible for HIV to spread from mother to child in utero and also via breastfeeding. The risk factor increases significantly when you’re exposed to an HIV positive person’s blood. However, there are plenty of safety regulations that prevent any infections related to transfusion.

Kissing and Casual Contact

A lot of people are afraid that kissing or casual contact with an HIV-infected person might spread the infection. HIV virus cannot live for long outside the body, and so casual contact like hugging or holding hands with an HIV-positive person is not enough to pass the virus. There is no problem in closed-mouthed kissing as well. There is some risk involved with open-mouthed kissing when blood is involved, from mouth sores or bleeding gums. Saliva sometimes has small quantities of the virus, but this is not sufficient for transmission.

Spitting, Scratching, and Biting

Spitting and scratching are not effective methods of HIV transmission. Scratches are not enough to result in an exchange of bodily fluids. However, gloves are an excellent way to avoid accidental exposure to diseased blood when drawing blood from HIV-infected people. The bite that fails to tear off the skin cannot pass the infection. . However, any kind of bite that opens up your skin and causes bleeding is risky.

Education to Dispel Stigmas and Myths

HIV-positive people had no solution to their problem when HIV first emerged as there was a significant stigma attached to the disease. Thanks to extensive research and studies, many treatment options are available nowadays that allow infected people to live productive and long lives.

The stigma has decreased considerably now as there is a greater understanding among people regarding the way HIV spreads. However, you can consult the doctor to replenish your knowledge. The best way to banish myths and actually prevent the spread of HIV is continued education.