December 1 is World AIDS Day. In this guest post, student research fellow Deborah Chambers explores some of the common misconceptions about HIV and AIDS.
We are taking time this month to reflect on how far we have come in the fight of HIV/AIDS, and find ways of working towards making more progress and discoveries to reduce the spread of new HIV infections. Moreover, we aspire to have new health policies and budgets that support this journey towards ending the AIDS epidemic. Knowing your HIV status will open a new journey that will enable you to make knowledgeable choices. It facilitates timely access to treatment, prevention, care, and support services.
HIV may typically progress to AIDS if no treatment is accessed. Nevertheless, there is a population that controls HIV without using antiretroviral drugs. These people are referred to as HIV elite controllers. They have a low risk of contracting opportunistic infection.
Sometimes people encounter misconceptions and myths about this disease. The risk of infection increases and many more people end up not receiving the care and treatment they need. Some of the common myths and misconceptions are discussed below:
1) I don’t need to undergo HIV testing unless I am convinced I have it.
One may think that because they do not engage in risky behavior, inject drugs, share needles, they are at no risk for HIV.
2) I will start treatment when I see my symptoms.
Delaying HIV therapy increases the risk of contracting an opportunistic infection. Individuals are twice likely to get certain chronic illnesses like cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
3) I will get HIV if I come into contact with an infected person or share the same space with them.
Hugging and touching infected people as well as sharing utensils with the latter will not spread the infection. The virus is transmitted sexually through sexual intercourse and exchange of body or blood fluids.
4) HIV will never affect me.
Everyone is affected and no one is immune to HIV. Individuals who are HIV-positive should not be isolated from the community and treated differently from those who are HIV-negative.
5) You can know when someone has HIV just by looking at them.
It is not possible to know a person’s HIV status by looking at them. Individuals who are infected with HIV may look healthy and carry on with daily activities like others who are HIV-negative. A good way to find out one’s status is by having a blood test done by a health professional at a hospital or clinic.
World AIDS Day 2018 Resources
More information about HIV/AIDS testing and World AIDS Day can be accessed at:
Do you have any questions about testing and treatment of HIV/AIDS? The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency offers testing and counseling services for military service members, veterans, and their families. They can also be accessed here.
The Family Health Centers of San Diego also have branches that offer HIV, STD, and hepatitis testing. Live life positively and know your HIV status.
Thank you to student research fellow Deborah Chambers for helping us all learn more about HIV and AIDS! For additional information, browse the Library Catalog for books, or check out our book display in the Library (special thanks to student research fellow Akinyemi Fayankinnu for assistance with this).
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