#1 HIV can be transmitted through sharing of utensils/ I cannot live with an HIV-infected person as I will get it too
No. HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids such as semen and vaginal fluids, blood, and breast milk. You cannot get HIV from insect bites, kissing, hugging, sharing of utensils or toilet seats.
#2 Only gay people have HIV
While HIV disproportionately affects men who have sex with men (MSM) and particularly men of colour, a significant proportion of heterosexual couples are still affected. In addition, it is important to consider other demographics such as race, socioeconomic status, and gender. There are also many women who are at risk of HIV. Moreover, HIV is not only transmitted through sexual intercourse.
#3 HIV is a death sentence
Being diagnosed with HIV is no longer a death sentence. Treatment is highly effective, and our understanding of HIV is far more advanced these days than in the 80s. If you continue to take the medications as prescribed by your physician, you will continue to live a long and healthy life.
#4 I cannot have sex with someone with HIV because I will be infected
It is possible to be in a sexual relationship with an infected person. You are recommended to take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), medication that will minimise risks of getting HIV. Talk to your doctor about treatment options. In addition, you should also consider barrier contraception such as condoms.
#5 I cannot have kids if I have HIV
You can have a relatively normal and healthy pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby even if you have HIV. Antiretroviral therapy minimises the risks of transmission. If you would like to breastfeed your baby, you should speak with your doctor as guidelines vary worldwide.
#6 HIV always leads to AIDS
HIV is not the same as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). HIV is an infection where the virus attacks the white blood cells in the body, which is responsible for fighting off infections. AIDS, the last stage of an HIV infection, occurs when the immune system is compromised. This will cause patients to be more susceptible to infections and death rates are high. Not all patients with HIV will develop AIDS. Furthermore, with the right treatment, the infection can be controlled.