Myths about HIV
Choma, isn't it crazy to think that even with all the things we know about how HIV is spread and what it is, there are still so many false rumours about it? Did you know that the more myths are spread, the more stigma about HIV is spread, and that HIV stigma actually puts more people at risk of contracting HIV or not living a healthy life with HIV? Yes, Choma, it is absolutely possible for you, if you are living with HIV, to live a normal and healthy life. So here are a few myths about HIV that need to be debunked:
You can tell who has HIV and who doesn't
No one can tell that you are HIV negative or positive just by looking at you Choma. It’s actually a form of discrimination for someone to look at you and assume you have HIV. In the beginning stages of HIV infection, the body's defenses start to weaken, but these symptoms can go undetected for a few months meaning that you might not even realise you have HIV until you get tested. Even then, no one can see that you have HIV. Think about it Choma, there are even people who were born with HIV and you wouldn’t know unless they tell you. HIV itself is not what anyone dies from. When you have HIV it weakens your immune system but the virus can be controlled with medication. If HIV is not controlled with antiretroviral treatment then HIV can progress to AIDS, which is life-threatening.. This is why it’s so important not to discriminate against anyone, whether they have HIV or not.
HIV will never affect me
Did you know that you don't have to be infected with HIV for it to affect you? If someone in your family or circle of friends tells you that they are HIV positive, it does affect you because you have the responsibility to be aware of what that means for them, and do what you can to support them.
You might think that you’re not affected by HIV because you come from a certain background or economic status. But HIV, like any other virus, disease or infection, doesn’t ONLY affect or infect certain people. HIV can affect and infect anyone. No matter where you live, what the colour of your skin is, or how old you are, you can become infected with HIV if you come into direct contact with the blood (through sharing needles for example) or sexual fluids (during unprotected sex).
You can get HIV from using public toilets
Choma it's understandable to feel that public toilets are unhygienic but it's important to remember that HIV is only spread through unprotected sex, needle-sharing or sometimes through mother-to-child transmission.
Only homosexual people get HIV
Choma, this myth is an example of not just problematic HIV stigma, but also of homophobia. The fact is that anyone can become infected with HIV - straight, gay, bisexual or lesbian, which is why it's so important to use a condom every time you have sex, no matter what your sexual orientation is.
Knowing the myths around HIV is extremely important for everyone - whether you’re living with HIV or not. At the end of the day, we are all affected by HIV and we have a responsibility to learn more about it so that we protect each from infection AND from stigma. Myths about HIV create stigma around HIV. And stigma around HIV prevents more people from getting tested, prevents more people from getting treatment and increases the risk of judgment and discrimination. Yes, we should prevent each other from being infected with HIV but we should also not judge each other for being infected with HIV.
HIV is not a ‘curse’, it is simple a virus that anyone can get. So it’s important that more of us are encouraged to get tested and lead healthier lifestyles, but also important that no one feels ashamed to get the help and treatment that they need to be able to lead a normal, healthy life with the help of Anti-retroviral treatment. HIV isn't the life-sentence it used to be long ago, Choma.
If you need advice or help with HIV/Aids, remember that you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).
Did you find this article helpful? Yes No