A Banner Publication
June 7, 2007 – No. 10
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MythBusters: Know the facts about HIV
10 HIV/AIDS Myths

1. HIV and AIDS are the same.

HIV is a virus that causes AIDS. A person infected with HIV may not develop AIDS for years, if at all, depending on the progression of the infection. A person is considered to be infected with AIDS when his or her white blood cell count reaches such a low level that the body cannot adequately fight infection.

2. You can get HIV from working with someone who is infected.

You cannot get HIV from shaking hands, using the same toilet seat, sharing pens, or speaking in close proximity. It can be contracted only by coming in contact with infected bodily fluids through an open wound or mucous membrane.

3. You can get HIV from a mosquito or other insect bite.

Mosquitoes inject only their saliva, not the blood of others they have bitten.

4. You can get HIV from kissing or being sneezed on.

You cannot get HIV from being sneezed on and there is no risk in closed-mouthed kissing. With open-mouth kissing there is a slight risk if there are open sores or blood in both parties’ mouths.

5. There’s a cure for HIV/AIDS.

There is no cure for HIV/AIDS. There are drug therapies that allow people to live with the disease, but there is no cure.

6. You can’t get HIV if you’re on the pill, or use a diaphragm, a sponge, spermicide, or other similar birth control methods.

These birth control methods are not intended to prevent the transmission of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and will not provide protection against HIV infection.

7. HIV can’t be transmitted through breastfeeding.

There is a risk of passing HIV to a breastfeeding baby through the breast milk.

8. You can’t have a baby if you have HIV.

HIV does not interfere with becoming pregnant.

Additionally, there are currently drug therapy options to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to a new child.

9. You’ll know if you get infected with HIV.

HIV symptoms show up in individuals at different times. There is no way to know for sure if you are infected except through a blood test, which is why it is important to be tested regularly if you are at risk for contracting HIV. The CDC encourages voluntary HIV testing as a routine part of medical care for all adolescents and adults ages 13 to 64.

10. HIV is a death sentence.

More than one million people in America are living with HIV due to many advances in drug therapy. HIV and AIDS are diseases that you can live with given the right treatment.