1. HIV-Positive Women Can’t Have Healthy Babies
For decades, women living with HIV have been giving birth to HIV-negative babies. Yes, there was a time when mother-to-child transmission was high, but in the U.S. these rates are all but eliminated. Being linked to care, not breastfeeding, and being put on AIDS meds during a woman’s pregnancy greatly reduces the chances of a baby developing HIV.
2. You Can Get HIV from Spitting, Scratching and Kissing
Nope. Blood, semen, vaginal and rectal secretions and breast milk are the only modes of HIV transmission. HIV can only be transmitted when one of these fluids from someone with HIV enter a negative person’s body through mucous membranes, cuts, open sores or tears in the skin.
3. Magic Johnson Never Really Had HIV
Since his 1991 disclosure, there has been this persistent belief that he either never had HIV or has been cured. Both are simply untrue. Yes, he has been living well with the disease for over 20 years, but he credits that to his antiretrovirals and access to quality health care.
4. People in Monogamous Relationships Don’t Get HIV
HIV is not a disease for the “promiscuous.” So being in a monogamous relationship or thinking your relationship is monogamous doesn’t protect you either (especially if neither one of you has been tested, you are unaware of your status, and/or one of you is stepping out). People in monogamous relationships actually have an increased HIV risk, because they are more likely to ditch condoms.
5. You Can Tell If Someone Has HIV
What does HIV look like? You really don’t know. Someone who is healthy, fit and muscular or curvy and pretty can be HIV-positive, too. The best way to protect yourself from the virus isn’t by superficial bias, but by condoms and knowing your status.
6. Women Cannot Transmit HIV To Men
It may be biologically harder for a woman to transmit HIV to a man during unprotected sex, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible—or that it doesn’t happen. During sex, HIV can enter a man through the tip or if he has a cut or abrasion on his penis. Not to mention, if that man has an untreated STD that raises his chances of seroconverting too.
7. HIV/AIDS Is a Death Sentence
It doesn’t have to be. Thankfully since the development of antiretrovirals in the mid ‘90s, HIV doesn’t automatically mean death anymore. Yes, people still die of complications of AIDS, but the key to reducing those numbers is getting people tested early and putting them on life-saving treatment so they can live a long and prosperous life.
8. You Can’t Have More Than One Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) At a Time
A person can be infected with more than one STD. A person with an untreated STD may also be 6-10 times more likely to pass on or acquire HIV during sex. Risk for infection increases 10 to 300-fold in the presence of a genital ulcer, such as occurs in syphilis or genital herpes.
9. We Already Know All We Need To Know About HIV
False. One-third of all Americans believe at least ONE of the most talked about HIV myths. Most of those misconceptions are about how HIV is transmitted.