Hi, my name is [PRESENTER NAME]. IÕm [PRESENTER ROLE]. Welcome to ŌThe Top 10 Myths About HIV and AIDS.Ķ This video will correct some common myths and misunderstandings about HIV and AIDS. For each myth, I will first state the myth and then explain the reality.
Myth: HIV doesnÕt cause AIDS
Reality: There is overwhelming scientific evidence and medical consensus that the disease we call AIDS is caused by the virus we call HIV. Scientists have been able to document how HIV infects cells, attacks the immune system, and causes the symptoms of AIDS. HIV is measurable in the blood of an infected individual and antiretroviral medications have clearly been shown to suppress the virus and improve the symptoms of AIDS.
Myth: Because of antiretroviral medications, we no longer need to be concerned about HIV/AIDS.
Reality: Antiretroviral medications are a great leap forward in the fight against HIV, but they are not a cure. If your doctor prescribes ARVs, you will have to take every dose on schedule to minimize the risk that the HIV in your body will develop resistance to the medication. Additionally, in developing countries, HIV/AIDS is continuing to spread, not only in Africa, but increasingly in India, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union. Clearly, the world has not yet experienced the full global impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on politics, economics, and the livelihood of those most affected.
Myth: If you have HIV already and are sexually active, you no longer need to practice safer sex.
Reality: HIV positive individuals who choose to be sexually active need to practice safer sex to reduce the risk that their HIV negative partner will become infected. When both partners are HIV positive, they also need to practice safer sex to protect themselves from contracting each otherÕs strain of HIV, a possibly more aggressive and drug resistant strain of HIV. If a person is HIV positive and chooses to be sexually active, it is important for them to inform their partners. Additionally, it is vital to practice safer sex with each sexual encounter.
Myth: You canÕt contract HIV through oral sex
Reality: Although the risk of spreading HIV through oral sex may not be quite as high as through some other sexual practices such as vaginal or anal sex, the risk is still there. There are documented cases of people who only engaged in oral sex and nonetheless contracted HIV as a result. Therefore, people who choose to be sexually active should reduce their risk via condoms for men and dental dams for women.
Myth: You canÕt get HIV from one sexual encounter
Reality: There are documented cases of individuals who contracted HIV from one sexual encounter because their partner was HIV positive and they had unprotected sex. Anyone who is HIV positive is capable of infecting their sexual partners, and you canÕt tell if a person is HIV positive by looking, so if you choose to be sexually active, remember that you can contract HIV from even a single sexual encounter and it is vital to use condoms.
Myth: A woman cannot spread HIV to another woman by having sex with her
Reality: Although the risk of an HIV positive woman infecting another woman by having sex is lower, the risk is still not zero. If a woman is HIV positive, her vaginal fluids contain HIV, and it is possible for her to infect her partner. If a person is HIV positive and chooses to be sexually active, it is important for them to inform their partners. Additionally, it is vital to practice safer sex with each sexual encounter.
Myth: If you are HIV positive but your HIV viral load is undetectable, you cannot spread HIV
Reality: Anyone who is HIV positive can spread the virus to their sexual partner. ItÕs true that if your viral load is lower, your risk of spreading HIV is lower, but the risk is not zero. If you are HIV positive and you choose to be sexually active, no matter how healthy you feel and how low your viral load may be, you must inform your partners in advance of your status so they are fully informed and you can work together to reduce the risk of spreading HIV.
Myth: AIDS can be spread by kissing, hugging, or shaking hands
Reality: Though there are other means of transmission, there are four primary ways that HIV spreads: through intimate sexual contact; sharing needles through injection drug use; blood transfusions, and from mother to child. You canÕt contract HIV by kissing a person, hugging them, or shaking their hands. You canÕt contract HIV by working or living with them.
Myth: If you have HIV, you can cure it by having sex with a virgin
Reality:There is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS. The myth that you can cure HIV/AIDS is prevalent in some parts of Africa and has even led to incidents where HIV positive men rape young women or girls in the hope of curing their HIV.
Myth: Every individual with HIV will eventually develop AIDS
Reality: There is a group of individuals with HIV who have not progressed to AIDS, despite being infected for over 20 years. Some appear to have a natural ability to suppress the virus in their body without medications. Others may have acquired a weaker strain of the virus. Still others took medications before their CD4 cells dropped below 200 and therefore, do not have an AIDS diagnosis. Regardless of the circumstance, time will tell whether it continues to be possible for an individual to remain HIV positive without progressing to AIDS.
These are just ten common myths about HIV and AIDS. There are many more. No matter who you are, it is important to have correct information about HIV and AIDS. You are a valuable individual, and your life matters as do the lives of those in your community. Take care of yourself and those around you. Make healthy choices that eliminate or reduce your risk of contracting HIV. Please watch the other videos on this web site to learn more about HIV and AIDS and how to protect yourself and others.
For AIDSvideos.org, this is [PRESENTER NAME].
This script was reviewed for accuracy and approved by Becky Kuhn, M.D. on April 29, 2006.