World AIDS Day: Do you also believe these common myths surrounding HIV/AIDS?
- World AIDS Day: There are many myths surrounding HIV/AIDS patients that need to be fact-checked.
World AIDS Day: Physical suffering aside, HIV/AIDS patients have to fight two battles at the same time - fighting the disease and fighting the social stigma attached to it. No wonder, the disease scars you both physically and mentally. According to some studies, depression in HIV/AIDS patients is common, but the factors affecting it are yet to be studied well. As the disease progresses over years, and symptoms get more severe, the mental health of the patients may deteriorate further as they may lose their jobs, remain unmarried or lack intimacy in a marriage, and have poor social support.
World AIDS Day is celebrated every year on December 1 to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS. It has become one of the most widely recognized international health days and aims to raise awareness, commemorate those who have died, and celebrate victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services.
There are many myths surrounding HIV/AIDS patients that need to be fact-checked. Although the virus is transmissible only through the exchange of certain body fluids such as blood, breast milk, semen or vaginal secretions from patients, many people even fear touching, shaking hands, or sharing food with those affected. Dr Dilip Gude, Consultant Physician, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad debunk some of these myths on the occasion of World AIDS Day.
Myth 1: HIV gets transmitted via cough, touch, shaking hands, etc
Fact: Unless the skin has ulcerations or abrasions, routine touch or cough does not transmit HIV
Myth 2: One is sure to die in a few months after getting diagnosed with HIV
Fact: With the latest medicines and long-term viral suppression, improving life span by even decades is possible
Myth 3: HIV-positive women should not try for a baby as the little one will invariably be HIV positive
Fact: With antiretroviral treatment, and C-section and other precautions, risk of transmission to newborns can be brought down to less than 2%
Myth 4: HIV is a viral disease. I don't need antibacterial or antifungal medicines
Fact: HIV weakens one's immune system to the level that common innocuous bacteria and fungi attack and flare up diseases. Based on one's CD 4 count prophylactic antibacterial and/or antifungal medicines may be required long term.
Myth 5: If two or more HIV positive patients get intimate there is no risk as they are already positive
Fact: There are many strains of HIV and this kind of unprotected sex promotes the evolution and transmission of dangerous strains
Myth 6: Since I don't have any symptoms I must not have HIV
Fact: For HIV to manifest symptomatically it may take years and the only way to find out is to test.
Myth 7: There are medicines I can take beforehand and prevent HIV after intercourse
Fact: Though pre-exposure prophylaxis minimizes one's risk, the risk does not become zero
Myth 8: Sharing food, drink, and cooking utensils with an HIV infected patient increases one's risk of getting HIV
Fact: HIV can’t be passed on through sharing food, drinks, or cooking utensils, even if the person preparing your food is living with HIV.
Myth 9: Although I belong to a high-risk group, since I got tested and it was negative I need not worry about preventive aspects like safe sex etc
Fact: There is a window period during which the body takes time developing antibodies that are routinely tested. So in some high-risk patients, it is important to check with multiple tests like GP24 assay, etc and repeat antibodies test in 3 to 6 months
Myth 10: HIV is transmissible via infected insects and pets
Fact: HIV is not transmitted via insects, mosquitoes, etc
Myth 11: Blood transfusions raise the risk of HIV
Fact: With recent stringent precautions and testing the risk now is near zero
Myth 12: If I'm getting treatment, I can't spread the virus.
Fact: HIV treatments can lower the amount of virus to a negligible level. But you can still be infectious despite treatment.
Myth 13: I can start HIV medicines and need not review with my doctor
Fact: Resistance to HIV drugs is on the rise. It is important to know which drugs are working. Periodic CD4 count and viral load testing and drug resistance testing are required to ensure adequate and appropriate treatment.