In spite of the developments taking place in the field of medicine, there are still lots of rumors swirling around the sensitive subject of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The HIV virus attacks your immune system and leads to AIDS. A person who is infected can pass HIV to a healthy individual but only under certain circumstances. Merely coming in contact does not pose any harm, contrary to popular belief. So, it is necessary that you learn to separate fact from fiction when it comes to HIV. Some of the most popular HIV myths and the truth behind them can be found below.
Common HIV Myths
HIV Spreads Via Bodily Fluids
HIV spreads through certain bodily fluids, especially those containing a high number of HIV antibodies like semen, rectal secretions, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. A person can be infected through open sores, cuts, or the mucous membrane. Amniotic fluids and the spinal cord also play a role in spreading HIV. But normal bodily fluids like tears and saliva cannot spread this infection on their own.
Process of Transmission
Vaginal sex is one of the most common reasons for the spread of HIV. There have been instances where oral sex has also been responsible for HIV. But the greatest amount of risk is in anal sex. That’s because the possibility of bleeding is greater in anal sex owing to the soft tissues that line your anus. This enables the virus to gain entry into your body more easily. HIV can also spread from mother to child during breastfeeding and in utero. Coming in contact with the blood of an infected person is also risky. But there are lots of safety regulations to avoid any transfusion-related infections.
HIV on Blood Banks
Blood banks do not contain any HIV blood and are safe. In the US, chances of spreading HIV through blood transfusion are rare. That’s because all the blood that is donated is tested by the Public Health Service. The blood is subjected to special tests that determine the health and safety of the donated blood. If a blood is found positive for HIV, it is discarded securely without any contact with the US blood supply.
Regular Contact and Kissing can Cause HIV
Many people fear kissing an HIV-infected individual or engaging in regular contact with them. But this fear is unfounded because the HIV virus is unable to live for long outside the body. Thus, casual contact like holding hands or hugging cannot spread the virus. Plus, close-mouthed kissing also does not cause any complications. Open-mouthed kissing does pose some problems especially if there is blood involved, from bleeding gums or via open sores. It is true that the saliva contains some of the virus but this cannot successfully ensure transmission.
Biting, Scratching, and Spitting
Scratching and spitting do not automatically spread the HIV virus. Scratches do not lead to any kind of exchange of bodily fluids. But wearing gloves does provide additional protection against exposure to infected blood. The chances of infection also do not increase if you are bitten but once it breaks the skin, you need to get yourself tested.
The Stigma is Dying
It is true that the stigma against HIV has reduced considerably among the people especially because they have become more aware of the spread of disease. But the best way to dispel the myths associated with HIV is continued education.