HIV has affected millions of people worldwide. Some estimates put the number of affected people over the 40 million mark. While the disease itself has grown into a pandemic, what’s worse is that there are a number of myths and misconceptions about HIV/AIDS, its transmission, and treatment. Understanding and dispelling these myths will ensure that the spread of the disease can be controlled.
1. HIV means certain death
: This is one of the worst myths about HIV/AIDS that has been making the rounds. Because of this, most newly diagnosed people lose hope and become depressed. The truth is that people living with the disease have longer lives now than ever before.
Modern medicine and treatment have transformed this once fatal disease into one that can be kept under control. People living with HIV can have normal, productive lives.
2. HIV/AIDS can be cured
: This is another huge myth that preys on the vulnerabilities of the infected and affected. When people infected with HIV find out that there is no cure, they reach out to alternate therapies that promise to cure them. Unfortunately, after spending huge amounts of money and time, they wake to the fact that HIV/AIDS allopathic treatment is their only hope, even though it does not offer a cure. A cure for HIV is still many years away. Experts say that it’s best to rely on the tried and tested regimen until a cure is discovered.
3. Women with HIV cannot have babies
: While this was true a few years ago, it no longer holds true in this day and age. Currently, the risk of transmission of HIV from the mother to the baby is around 2%-3%. This has been made possible with modern treatment methods, which include giving anti-HIV drugs to the mother during her second and third trimesters, performing a C-section instead of a normal delivery, giving anti-HIV drugs to the baby at birth, and totally abstaining from breast feeding.
4. HIV/AIDS only affects drug users and gay men
: This misconception about HIV has been around since the time that HIV was first discovered. The fact is that anyone who puts themselves at risk can become infected, regardless of their race, social status, age, or sexual orientation.
5. HIV and AIDS are the same thing
: HIV is the name of the virus that causes the infection, while AIDS is a collection of diseases that the person gets when their immunity has dropped to very low levels due to this viral infection. When the person’s immunity has drastically dropped, opportunistic infections (which do not usually infect a non-immune compromised person) attack the person. These can prove fatal if the HIV-infected person is not put on antiretroviral drugs (anti-HIV medication). Keeping track of one’s CD4 counts and following up with a physician on a regular basis can help a person avoid contracting AIDS after being diagnosed with HIV.
There are all sorts of myths and misconceptions about HIV/AIDS. These myths need to be dispelled to enable the infected person to lead a normal, happy, and healthy life free of stigma and discrimination.
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