AIDS is the final stage of an HIV infection that severely damages the immune system resulting in weakened immunity and vulnerability to other opportunistic infections.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a major global public health issue. If not treated timely, it can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), which is the third and final stage of an HIV infection that brings out severe damage to the immune system resulting in weakened immunity and vulnerability to other opportunistic infections.
There are many misconceptions about HIV and AIDS that can cause fear, worry and shame - and no one should feel shame about getting tested for HIV or any other kind of sexually transmitted disease. Learning the basics about HIV and AIDS can help keep us healthy and prevent transmission of the disease.
Myth: Touching or kissing can spread HIV
Fact: HIV is not spread through physical touch including touching, kissing, holding hands or hugging/cuddling. The disease spreads through contact with specific body fluids such as blood, breast milk, semen, vaginal fluid and preseminal fluid. It is also transmitted through used needles with infected blood. The virus also has a chance to pass through the placenta and infect the fetus or may be transmitted during child birth or breastfeeding.
However, even though the virus is known to exist in fluids like saliva, there is not enough for it to be transmitted through kissing.
Myth: Having HIV brings down your life expectancy
Fact: In the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, patients had a short life expectancy, however, that is no longer the case. Advances in treatment methodology and newer medications have significantly extended thelives of people living with HIV and many are even able to live a normal life span. What more, early intervention may help to prevent HIV from becoming AIDS.
Myth: People infected with HIV can’t have children
Fact: While the fact is HIV positive people can have children, however, they carry an increased risk of passing the infection to their children. HIV positive individuals need to take complete precaution during and after childbirth to avoid transmitting the infection to their new-borns and allow their children to live healthy lives from birth. During pregnancy, they must take proper antiretroviral medication, go for a C-section for childbirth and/or don’t breastfeed.
Myth: HIV can be cured
Fact: No drug exists that can cure HIV infection completely, but there certainly are treatments that can significantly help control the virus and have a protective effect on your immune system. These drugs can also help to prevent HIV from becoming full blown AIDS.
Myth: HIV infection always results in AIDS
Fact: AIDS is the full blown form of the disease that results when the HIV infection is left untreated for long duration. If infected individuals keep up with their treatment regimen properly, they won’t necessarily contract the AIDS – the end stage of HIV infection.