HIV phobia: What does it look like?

When a person has a phobia, they’ll often shape their lives to avoid what they consider to be dangerous. If you fear the possibility of HIV infection to the extent that you’re unable to cope with everyday life, you may have HIV phobia. Here’s more.

What is HIV phobia?

HIV phobia is the irrational fear of getting infected with HIV, or the fear you’ve already been infected even though your tests are negative.

What causes HIV phobia?

Due to a lack of understanding and knowledge, people still believe that you can contract the virus through the following myths. These include:

From mosquitoes, ticks, or other insects.

Through saliva, tears, or sweat.

By hugging, shaking hands, sharing toilets, sharing dishes, or closed mouth or “social” kissing with someone who has HIV.

Through the air.

These misconceptions often result in a situation where the fear of HIV takes over your life and affects your ability to function at work or school, maintain healthy relationships and experience a sense of wellbeing in general.

There are only a few ways you can get HIV. This is why it’s important to know the facts and be aware of the risks.


If you find yourself having a fear of HIV, it can be treated. Talking to your healthcare provider on how you can recognise the triggers and mitigate the negative emotional impacts of your phobia, is your first step.

Testing is the only way to know for sure whether you have HIV or not. Antiretroviral treatment (ART) means that people living with HIV can live long and healthy lives. If your tests do come back positive, the sooner you get on the right treatment, the better your long-term health will be.

You can also contact the AIDS helpline on 0800 012 322 to get more information on HIV/AIDS. Remember that getting accurate information and being informed can lower your chances of contracting the virus and lower your anxiety.

HIV isn’t a death sentence and there are resources and treatment available to help you manage this virus.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).