This article was published on November 30th, 2015
Each year, on December 1, the world stops for a moment to pay special attention to HIV. World AIDS Day is a day to remember the ones who we have lost, keep in mind people living with HIV, and to recognize the great strides that have been made to overcome the virus.
Since the AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s there has been plenty of stigma and misinformation about HIV and AIDS. It comes up almost weekly now, with recent media spotlights on Charlie Sheen and Danny Pintaro, and the countless missed opportunities they had to help fight the battle and stigma over HIV/AIDS. Having the right information and educating yourself is important. Here is a brief list of common myths about HIV/AIDS, along with the actual truths:
Myth: HIV and AIDS are the same thing
Truth: HIV and AIDS are not the same thing. HIV is a virus. HIV, if left untreated, can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), which damages the immune system. The weakened immune system is no longer able to fight off other infections, which can then lead to death.
Myth: HIV is a death sentence
Truth: If detected early, HIV is a manageable medical issue. With advancements in medicine and consistent treatment, a person who has HIV can live a perfectly normal life and a normal lifespan.
Myth: I’m monogamous so I won’t get HIV
Truth: While you think you and your partner are completely monogamous, cheating does happen; maybe not in all relationships, but it does occur more often than you may believe. Just because you aren’t cheating doesn’t mean your partner isn’t having extra fun on the side.
It’s important to take care of yourself, employ a complete safer-sex toolkit, and get tested frequently. If you are HIV positive, treatment as prevention (TasP), can reduce your viral load count to undetectable levels, meaning it is almost impossible to transmit the virus to another person. And if you are HIV negative, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), can be used as an added layer of protection to help reduce your risk of contracting HIV by up to 99%.