In case you missed it, here's part 1 on the Sex Myth Buster on HIV/AIDS.
- Myth 10: I don't need to worry about HIV, there is a cure
While it's true that medications like ARVs can keep you healthier and alive for much longer, there is no cure for HIV/AIDS yet. And those meds have some serious side effects. Also, because the virus changes extremely quickly, drug-resistance might make treatment much more difficult in the future. So don't bank on the drugs, prevention is still the best way to go.
- Myth 11: HIV is caused by witchcraft or taboos
No. HIV is caused by a virus, the human immunodeficiency virus. Which is what HIV stands for. People who have been infected have not be cursed or bewitched. HIV also isn't a punishment of God against certain communities.
- Myth 12: If I'm on ARVs, I can't spread the virus
ARVs will keep your viral load down, which means the risk of infecting someone else is lower. But there is still a risk, especially because small changes can affect the amount of virus in your blood and you won't know what your exact viral load is unless you just got tested. So even if you are on medication, you need to use protection when having sex.
- Myth 13: I'm circumcised, I can't get HIV
Unfortunately, this isn't true. While circumcision, or voluntary medical male circumcision, as it's officially called, can lower your risk of getting HIV, it can't fully protect you from HIV. So even if you are circumcised, you will still need to use condoms to protect yourself and your partner.
- Myth 14: Only people who are very sick need to take ARVs
Even if you are feeling healthy, your immune system might already be taking a beating from the virus. To protect your immune system and your health for as long as possible, it might be necessary to start taking medication even if you feel great. When to start ARVs should be discussed with your doctor and mainly depends on your CD4+ count.
- Myth 15: Alternative medicine can also be used to treat HIV
Unfortunately, all cures and treatments other than ARVs have proven to be ineffective against the virus. Don't attempt to replace the meds your doctor has given you with something else, even if it sounds very tempting.
However, some forms of alternative medicine can help with managing side effects of ARVs and other symptoms associated with the infection and it might be worth looking into the different options. But always discuss this with your doctor before starting.
- Myth 16: I can't get HIV from oral sex
The chances of getting infected through oral sex are very low, but especially if you have wounds or lesions in your mouth or even your stomach, there is a risk. To protect yourself, use condoms on men, and dental dams on women. If dental dams are difficult to come by, just cut the tip off a condom and then cut it lengthwise, so you have a square sheet you can put over the vagina instead of a dental dam.
- Myth 17: I'm HIV positive. Now I need to tell everybody
Who you want to tell is up to you. It will be necessary to tell your partner, and your healthcare providers, but who else you tell about your status is up to you. It might actually be a good idea to think it through first, before you disclose your status to anyone.
- Myth 18: HIV and AIDS aren't related
There are still people who deny this, or claim that AIDS is simply a new name for an old disease. But AIDS is a relatively new disease. While the virus has been around in monkeys for a while, the first cases in humans might have occurred early in the 20th century. As for denying that the HIV causes AIDS: the scientific evidence is clear. The virus eventually causes AIDS.
Do you know any other myths about HIV/AIDS? Leave a comment below, or join our discussions on Facebook.