World AID Day: Myth Buster
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system. HIV can cause acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), a disease that severely weakens immunity and can be fatal. One person passes HIV to another under certain circumstances. Understanding the facts rather than buying into lingering myths about transmission can prevent misinformation — and HIV —from spreading.
There is still no cure or vaccine for HIV/AIDS, which affects approximately 37 million people around the world. But there is reason to hope that the global response to this pandemic is improving.
Fewer people died of HIV in 2015 than at any point in almost 20 years, while new HIV infections are at the lowest point since 1991, the World Health Organization noted in its 2016 progress report. That may be, in part, because at least two million new people began taking antiretroviral therapy in 2015, the largest annual increase ever in the history of the disease.
So this weekend I'm doing AIDS weekend. I will talk the myth of the AIDS, it's history and treatment and possible cure.
Myth 1: The “Down-Low” Is Why So Many Black Women Have HIV
We can thank the media, celebrities and our own homophobia for why this lie continues to thrive. But be clear: The down-low is NOT fueling HIV among Black women—it only accounts for a small number of infections. And we have the data that proves as much.
Now, no one is denying that there are Black men living double lives, but if we truly want to understand what’s behind our disproportionate HIV rates, look to the following: Having unprotected vaginal and anal sex with multiple partners or even one partner; high rates of incarceration that take men out of the mating pool and create a system of women sharing the same man; intravenous drug use; untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which make people more vulnerable to contracting HIV once exposed to the virus; and people having unprotected sex, being unaware that they are positive and who are going untreated while highly infectious.
Not to mention, gender inequality in relationships (i.e. who controls condom use in relationships) and lack of access to testing and quality health care.
Myth 2: Straight Men Don’t Have HIV
So here’s the deal: If women contract HIV through heterosexual sex and it’s not the Down-Low fueling HIV, so logic dictates that straight dudes have HIV too. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirm this: They estimated that in 2014, more than 2,108 Black heterosexual men received HIV diagnoses (compared with 4,654 black women). Now take to the national level Most men become HIV-positive through sexual contact with other men. But you can get the virus from heterosexual contact, too: About 1 in 6 men and 3 in 4 women do.
And while it’s biologically easier for a woman to contract HIV from a man, that doesn’t mean that men can’t contract it from women. It happens way more often than you think. During unprotected sex, the virus can enter through the tip of the penis of through a cut or abrasion. This risk becomes even more heightened, if that man has an untreated STD.
Myth 3: Homosexual men and drug users are more likely to get infected with HIV than other people.
In Singapore, 90% of all HIV infections occur through sexual intercourse. Out of these, 60% result from heterosexual intercourse. HIV is spread mostly through unprotected sexual contact and does not discriminate against anyone. It is not who you are but your risky behaviors which put you at risk of HIV infection. Regardless of your personality or sexuality, you will be at risk if you don't take protective measures.
Myth 4: There is no need to use a condom during sexual contact if both partners already have HIV.
There are different strains of HIV. If a condom is not used during sexual contact, HIV-infected partners may exchange different types or strains of HIV. This can lead to re-infection, which will make the treatment of HIV infection more difficult. The new HIV strain may become more resistant to the current treatment taken, or cause the current treatment option to be ineffective. So please, please DON'T do this. Wear a condom
Myth 5: The Meds Are What Kill You right
Definitely back in the early days of the epidemic, AZT—a form of treatment— was practically the only medication out there for people living with HIV/AIDS. And there were serious side effects, which made people appear to be sicker than they were before they took the meds. And its toxicity did in fact end in death for some who took it. But thanks to tremendous progress in treatment for HIV and AIDS over the years. A person living with HIV/AIDS can now continue to live a strong and productive life for many years. Treatment doesn’t take lives, it saves them. However, HIV remains in the body and can be transmitted to others.