Debunking the myths and miscommunications of HIV/AIDS in observance of World AIDS Day.
HIV/AIDS facts and education have been shared throughout the globe for decades now through various prevention programs, advocacy groups, HIV/AIDS nonprofits, designated governmental departments, and medical professionals, yet a wide range of misconceptions and miscommunications still exist.
Myths about HIV/AIDS can spread like wildfire, which leads to people being misinformed about the best safe-sex practices to prevent contracting HIV/AIDS. So it’s important to continually educate everyone on the truths and facts of HIV/AIDS while dispelling the false information and inaccuracies.
Here are 7 current HIV myths that are rumored these days:
1. I don’t need to use a condom while on PrEP.
While Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication has shown to help prevent an HIV negative person from contracting HIV, it is not 100% effective and studies are still being conducted so condom use is still advised. It’s also best to think of PrEP as an extra safeguard against HIV. Plus, PrEP does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs) so although it helps prevent HIV contraction it won’t safeguard you from contracting one of the various types of STIs.
2. I can just take PrEP when I am planning to have sex.
False. PrEP is a daily HIV preventative medication. It is not to be used on a case by case basis. In order for it to serve its purpose as a preventative, a pill is taken once a day every day. Individuals that are on PrEP routinely see their physician every 3 months for a checkup that includes an STI and HIV test.
3. Tops cannot contract HIV.
Although men who have sex with men (MSM) that are the ones who penetrate their sexual partners (Top) have less of a chance of contracting the virus than the person who is being penetrated (Bottom), that doesn’t mean that they are completely immune to contracting HIV. There is a chance of contraction.
4. You cannot contract HIV from giving oral sex.
Although it is rare to contract HIV from administering oral sex, it is not completely impossible. If you have sores or cuts in your mouth, have a gum disease or had recent dental work, you can contract the virus while giving oral sex. However, you cannot contract HIV if you receiving oral sex.
5. You can still contract HIV from an HIV positive person who is undetectable.
False. You cannot contract HIV from an HIV positive person whose HIV viral load is so low that they have an undetectable HIV status. Studies have shown that people that adhere to their HIV medication regimen can show a significant decrease in their HIV viral load to the point where the virus is no longer detectable. U=U is the phrase used to educate people on undetectable equals untransmittable.
6. An HIV positive person who is undetectable no longer has HIV.
False. An HIV positive person who is undetectable means that they are adhering to their medication regimen to the point that their viral load is so low to where the virus is undetectable thus the virus can’t be spread to their sexual partners. But that doesn’t mean they no longer have HIV, stopping their medication regimen would cause the HIV to become detectable yet again in their bodies.
7. Men who have sex with men (MSM) are not allowed to donate blood.
False. Although once true, currently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has changed their guidelines from a lifetime deferral in which MSM can’t donate blood to a 12-month deferral meaning that MSM who haven’t had sex with another man in the last 12-months may possibly donate blood.