It’s been 38 years since the first outbreak of HIV/AIDS was reported in US. When AIDS first showed up, it was a very mysterious disease. It killed a lot of people.
Some 320 children and adolescents died every day from AIDS-related causes in 2018, or 13 every hour, according to a global snapshot on children, HIV and AIDS released by the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday. In 2018, around 1,60,000 children aged 0-9 were newly infected with HIV, bringing the total number of children in this age group living with HIV to 1.1 million.
To raise public awareness about AIDS, December 1 is celebrated as World AIDS Day every year all over the world. World AIDS Day was first observed in 1988. And each year, different organisations across the world bring attention to the HIV epidemic, endeavour to increase HIV awareness and knowledge.
In light of World AIDS Day, we wanted to raise awareness about common misconceptions people still have today about HIV/AIDS.
Here are few myths and facts you must know about HIV/AIDS
HIV can be transmitted through breast milk, vaginal and rectal fluids, blood and semen. It is a lifelong condition which cannot be cured.
With proper treatment and management, a person can live with HIV for many years.
An HIV which is untreated can develop into AIDS within a decade. AIDS cannot be cured and the average life expectancy after being diagnosed with AIDS is three years. Life expectancy can be shorter in case a person develops some infection or any other opportunistic illness.
HIV symptoms are usually dependent on the stage of infection. In most cases, HIV tends to be most infectious during the first few months of catching the infection.
HIV is a gay man’s disease: HIV does not discriminate against age, race, gender, sexual orientation, class, or any other identifier.
I can get HIV from mosquitoes: Because HIV is spread through blood, people have worried that biting or bloodsucking insects might spread HIV.
I can get HIV by being around people who are HIV positive: HIV isn’t spread through touch, tears, sweat, saliva, or pee.
Because I am HIV, I am going to develop AIDS: It’s possible that you’ll develop AIDS, the disease that HIV causes. But it’s also possible you won’t. If you begin taking HIV drugs promptly, they can help protect you from advancing to AIDS for many years. In fact, it is possible to achieve a near normal life span if you continue to take the drugs correctly.
My partner and I are both HIV positive – there’s no reason for us to practice safe sex: A big NO! You may still be susceptible to contracting drug resistant strains of HIV. Two sexual partners who are both HIV-positive could have different strains of the virus and, if they have unprotected sex, they could infect one another with another strain, leading to their immune systems being attacked by two different forms of the virus.