5 Basic Things You Need to Know About HIV and AIDS

Don’t worry; you can’t catch HIV through a mosquito bite or a toilet seat. Nor is it a death sentence if you contract it.   

  • Find out the best ways to prevent getting these diseases.  
  • This blog post will dispel some common myths about HIV and AIDS.  

“It won’t happen to me.” These words echo through many minds when thinking about the possibility of contracting HIV. And we don’t blame you. No one wants to imagine such a thing. Yet, it’s crucial to stay in the know. That’s where we come in to help.  

This blog post is here to spill some serious facts about the virus and condition and debunk some long-held misconceptions that people still believe, even to this day, about HIV and AIDS.   

Before delving further, let’s look at what HIV and AIDS are.   

What Is HIV?   

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that destroys your immune system by attacking your CD4 helper cells, also called T cells. Since CD4 cells are what ward off infections and diseases from your body, it makes you much more vulnerable to catching infections and, alarmingly, even certain types of cancers.   

What Is AIDS?  

AIDS is the ultimate result of what happens if HIV goes untreated. As AIDS is the final stage of an HIV infection, AIDS paves the way to something called Opportunistic Infections, which are severe illnesses that wreak havoc on the body.

Examples are Salmonella infection, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and toxoplasmosis, just to name a handful. However, keep in mind that HIV takes approximately 8-10 years to turn into AIDS.  

Common Myths, Debunked  

Here are some of the most common myths surrounding HIV and AIDS. Let’s take a look:   

Myth 1: Just being around someone with HIV can transmit it to you.

You can’t get HIV through air, sweat, touch or even saliva or urine and feces. It’s transferred through bodily fluids like blood, vaginal fluids, and semen.

Think vaginal or anal sex, sharing needles used for injecting drugs, or from mom to baby through labour or breastfeeding (though the latter is less common due to preventative measures). Additionally, it can be transmitted from occupational hazards like a nurse getting a needlestick injury.   

Myth 2: You can tell if someone has HIV or AIDS just by looking at them.

Many times, HIV/AIDS positive people display no symptoms, signs, or indications that they carry the potentially life-threatening virus.   

Myth 3: You can’t have kids because of the risk of transmission.

Thanks to rapidly soaring advancements and breakthroughs in the medical world, HIV-positive women can now safely give birth without worrying about passing HIV to their children.   

Note that this can only be possible if the mom takes her HIV meds throughout the entire pregnancy and 4-6 weeks after. With treatment, the baby’s risk of getting the virus sits at 1% or less.  

Myth 4: Becoming HIV positive means your life is over.

Yes, several decades ago, your life could have taken a much different turn, as the death rate from AIDS was sky-high. Now, though, with all the progressive and pioneering treatments available, you can expect to live as long as you would have without the virus, provided you take your medication regularly as prescribed.  

Myth 5: You have to take a million pills

Sure, this was true back in the early days of the HIV pandemic, but in this day and age, it is possible to manage with a few pills or even a combination of drugs in a single medicine.  

How to Tell if You Have HIV and Possible Next Steps  

The only absolute surefire way to tell if you have HIV is to get yourself tested. Here’s our advice based on the outcome of your test results.  

If you’re HIV positive, if you test positive for HIV, you can start taking HIV medication. By taking HIV medication regularly as directed, you can reduce the amount of HIV in your blood (your viral load) to such a low level that a test cannot detect it (called an undetectable viral load).   

The best thing you can do to stay healthy is to achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load. If your viral load remains undetectable, you have virtually no risk of transmitting HIV through sex to an HIV-negative partner.  

If you’re HIV negative, consider it a bullet dodged and try to be more cautious in the future. Read our prevention tips below.   

*If you’re pregnant and suspect you have HIV, get yourself tested immediately to slash the risk of passing HIV to your baby in case you have it. As mentioned above, pregnant HIV-positive women who take their meds regularly can cut down on the risk of transmitting the virus by a whopping 99% or more.   

How You Can Prevent Getting HIV/AIDS  

PrEP  

HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a prevention strategy. A daily dose of HIV medications known as antiretrovirals can lower your risk of contracting HIV by up to 99 percent.   

PrEP is advised for people who are at high risk of infection, such as men who have sex with men (MSM) and couples in a serodiscordant relationship (where one partner has HIV and the other does not).   

Anyone at risk of HIV who wants to reduce their chances of infection can use PrEP.  

Condoms  

Using condoms, internal or external, is proven to be highly effective in preventing pregnancy, HIV, and other STDs.   

Avoid Sharing Needles With Others  

Make sure never to share needles. Whether that’s getting a tattoo done at a shady seeming shop or doing intravenous drugs, it’s a total no-no.   

Prevention After Exposure   

Yes, preventing HIV after possibly exposing yourself to it is a real solution. If you think you may have unwittingly been exposed to HIV, PEP, aka post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), can help.  

Key Takeaways  

 

To sum it all up, we’ve explored what HIV/AIDS is, uncovered popular myths related to the virus, how to tell if you have HIV, and ways to prevent transmission, even after a potential exposure to it (PEP).   

We hope you enjoyed this blog post and found it informative and interesting. Thanks for reading, and please leave a comment below expressing your take on HIV/AIDS.  

 

*DISCLAIMER*: 

Please note that although we’ve done thorough research on all of our blogs, always be sure to do your due diligence and consult a doctor or medical professional before making any decision related to health or medicine.   

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