Common Myths About HIV & AIDS

People diagnosed with HIV have very low life expectancies

As little as fifteen years ago, those diagnosed with HIV could expect to develop AIDS and die from the illness on average just five years after diagnosis. This was due to the late stage HIV was generally diagnosed at and the limited treatment options available.

These days, improvements in treatment and early diagnosis mean that people can on average expect to live for 24 years after being diagnosed with HIV. Younger people and those that take their HIV medication correctly can expect to live even longer that this with life expectancies close to those without HIV.

HIV is curable

HIV medication in the form of anti-retroviral drugs can only control the illness, it cannot cure it. Some people stop HIV medication when the levels of the virus circulating in their system becomes negligible however the virus is still there and levels of the virus circulating in the body will increase again in the absence of medication.

HIV and AIDS are the same illness

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) reduces the ability of the immune system to fight infection making it more susceptible to certain illnesses and diseases that do not normally develop in people with healthy immune systems. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the name given to the collection of these illnesses and diseases that result from HIV. If an individual develops illnesses or diseases that are classified as an AIDS defining illness they are considered to have AIDS.

AIDS defining illnesses include candidiasis (a fungal infection), recurring penumonia, tuberculosis, wasting syndrome, lymphoma, cervical cancer and esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus).

HIV can be transmitted by casual contact with a sufferer

While saliva, sweat and urine from an HIV positive individual contain small amounts of the virus, kissing or sharing a bathroom or drink bottle with an HIV infected person does not lead to transmission of the virus.

Some recorded cases of transmission from kissing where both individuals have bleeding from the mouth through gum disease for example, have been recorded but the risk is negligible. In theory, being bitten by an HIV positive individual could result in HIV transmission but again the risk is extremely small. The overwhelming transmission route for HIV is through sexual contact.