HIV/AIDS Facts and Myths

With so much information about HIV/AIDS, distinguishing between truth and myth can be challenging. Here, we clarify common misconceptions to ensure you understand the facts about HIV transmission, available treatments, and living with HIV.

What is a MYTH?
A myth is untrue or false information.

What is a FACT?
A fact is true information that can be verified through credible sources.

MYTH: HIV or AIDS can be cured.

FACT: There is no cure for HIV/AIDS. Treatments are available that can manage the disease, but they do not eliminate it.

MYTH: HIV/AIDS is a death sentence.

FACT: There are over 35 FDA-approved medications to treat HIV/AIDS. These medications, primarily known as antiretroviral therapy (ART), enable HIV-positive individuals to live full and healthy lives with early diagnosis and treatment.

MYTH: Taking birth control prevents HIV.

FACT: Birth control does not protect against HIV. Using condoms or other barrier methods is crucial for protection during sexual activity.

MYTH: Women who are HIV positive can't or shouldn't have babies.

FACT: HIV-positive women can have healthy babies. It is essential for pregnant women with HIV to consult their healthcare provider for the best treatment options and early prenatal care to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission.

MYTH: It's safe to have unprotected sex if both partners are HIV positive.

FACT: Different HIV strains can lead to superinfection, where two strains combine and alter the virus. Using new condoms for each sexual act and adhering to medication minimizes this risk.

MYTH: I can't get HIV because I'm not gay/black/a drug user.

FACT: HIV affects people of all ages, races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations.

MYTH: I can't get HIV because I'm in a monogamous relationship.

FACT: Engaging in honest conversations about monogamy and getting tested together is crucial, even in monogamous relationships.

MYTH: My partner tested negative for HIV, so we don't need safer sex.

FACT: Always negotiate condom use and get tested with your partner to reduce the risk of HIV. Testing and open communication are essential for safety.

MYTH: Faithful and loving partners do not spread HIV.

FACT: Definitions of “faithful” and “loving” can vary. It's vital for partners to get tested together and have open discussions about their relationship and expectations.

MYTH: HIV therapy prevents virus transmission completely.

FACT: HIV treatment reduces the transmission risk by 96%, but there is still a 4% chance of transmission between a virally suppressed and an uninfected partner.

MYTH: Oral sex doesn't pose a risk for HIV/AIDS.

FACT: While the risk is lower, HIV can still be transmitted through oral sex, especially if the receptive partner has recent dental work or open sores.

MYTH: You can tell if someone has HIV by looking at them.

FACT: HIV can be asymptomatic for up to 10 years or more, so you cannot tell if someone has HIV just by their appearance.

MYTH: You can't get HIV if you have an STD.

FACT: The activities that transmit STDs also transmit HIV. Having an STD increases your risk of HIV infection due to breaks or tears in the genital tract lining or skin.

FACT: HIV CANNOT be spread through:

  • Saliva, such as kissing or sharing eating utensils
  • Hugging or shaking hands with someone who is HIV positive
  • Sharing exercise equipment or playing sports with an HIV positive person
  • Touching a toilet seat or doorknob handle after an HIV positive person
  • Drinking from a public water fountain

Always ensure your health information comes from credible sources like the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or

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