a crowd of people telling each other myths about HIV. A lively young man popping the speech bubbles.

HIV Myths Still Persist! - Part 1

Myths about HIV persist, even today! Should we believe that because ART and PrEP are now a once-a-day regimen referred to as the “blue pill” on daily TV commercials, that myths about HIV have disappeared?

Absolutely not!

What are some common myths about HIV that still persist?

Can you get HIV from oral sex?

The risk of HIV exposure from oral sex is extremely low. HIV risk increases if you or your partner have large cuts, or opens sores on the genitals, gums, or the mouth. A dental dam or condoms help to reduce HIV risk from oral sex.

HIV from toilet seats

People still think you can get HIV from toilets! The truth is that HIV does not survive well outside of the body, in the air, and in light. Also, toilet seats are not likely vectors for bacterial and viral infections!

Kissing

Kissing is risky for herpes, but definitely not for HIV. HIV doesn’t survive well outside of the body. Your mouth is not an orifice that transmits HIV efficiently.

Mosquitos

HIV is a human-to-human virus! Mosquitoes transmit diseases like malaria, but not HIV.

Sharing utensils

Sharing utensils can transmit Hepatitis A! Sharing utensils cannot transmit the virus.

Magic Johnson is cured

Magic is not cured. Magic Johnson takes the same daily regimen of HIV medications as most people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).1

I’m HIV-positive and so is my partner. Now, HIV is no longer a concern, right?

There are many strains of the virus that causes HIV. If you and your partner are seroconcordant, or both living with HIV, you may have different strains of the virus. Both partners should still protect themselves from additional HIV exposure. If you acquire two or more different strains of HIV, it can negative implications for your HIV treatment.

If you are on effective treatment and a medical professional has confirmed your viral load is undetectable, you will not pass HIV on through sex.

HIV myths related to HIV stigma

When I have worked in areas with lower and/or higher levels of socioeconomic status, both neighborhoods seemed to carry high levels of HIV stigma. People would say, “Don’t get tested. They give you HIV!” Or, “I’m clean!” Or, “HIV was created by the government!” HIV stigma is still alive!

No matter what people think, it’s important to correct HIV myths and promote awareness of the facts!

Addressing myths to improve health outcomes

I have observed local neighborhoods that were at first opposed to HIV testing. After concentrated outreach and mobile HIV testing, neighbors got tested, HIV positive individuals were linked to care, and they all applauded each other for getting tested for HIV!

HIV stigma is alive today! HIV stigma is not based on facts and HIV myths can be dispelled with the truth!

Know the facts, dispel myths and spread the truth about HIV/AIDS! Visit Avert.org for more information and facts!

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