9 HIV Myths That Need To Be Stopped


By Aria Ellise       –Blackdoctor.org
What you don’t know won’t kill you, right? Wrong.  There are a bunch of HIV myths that people continue to believe just because it’s easier than accepting the truth. So right here, right now, we want to end the most talked about HIV myths of the decade…

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.

National HIV Testing Day: Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ Statement

Get Tested: Today Is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

By -hellobeautiful.com

Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and it started as a grass roots effort with hundreds of organizations registering events and/or activities to raise the awareness of HIV and AIDS in Black communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-Americans have the most severe burden of HIV of all racial/ethnic groups in the United States–making up an alarming 47 percent of all new HIV infections in the United States. That’s almost half! Compared with other races and ethnicities, African-Americans account for a higher proportion of HIV infections at all stages of disease—from new infections to deaths.

We have to get tested, know our status and protect ourselves. But here is one bittersweet statistic: new HIV infections among Black women have declined in recent years, however in 2011, 64 percent of women diagnosed with HIV were Black. There’s no denying that the numbers are never in our favor when it comes to HIV/AIDS.

Black women aren’t the only sad statistics in HIV/AIDS. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  Black gay men, transgender individuals, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) continue to experience shocking increases in HIV incidence each year, particularly among those aged 13–24 (up nearly 21 percent since 2008).

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was conceived by five national organizations funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1999 to provide capacity building assistance to Black communities and organizations. The mobilization of communities begin in 2000 with these organizations: Concerned Black Men, Inc. of Philadelphia; Health Watch Information and Promotion Services, Inc.; Jackson State University – Mississippi Urban Research Center; National Black Alcoholism and Addictions Council; and National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.

World AIDS Day: Saving babies from HIV

Fortunata Kagege (right) and daughter Florida (center) at Emily Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation’s A Time For Heroes Picnic.

by Dr. Terrance McGill

The Grio.com was fortunate to sit down with Fortunata Kasege, 38, who is a family ambassador with the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF). Founded in 1988, EGPAF has reached more than 17 million women with services to prevent transmission of HIV to their babies.

“It currently works at more than 6,800 sites and in 15 countries to implement prevention, care, and treatment services; to further advance innovative research; and to execute global advocacy activities that bring dramatic change to the lives of millions of women, children, and families worldwide,” Kasege says.

Here she shares her story about how she has lived with HIV and her own decision to undergo prevention of mother-to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) treatment while she was pregnant — a treatment that ultimately saved her life and prevent the transmission of HIV to her daughter Florida who was born HIV-negative.

theGrio: When were you first diagnosed with HIV?

Fortunata Kasege: I was diagnosed in 1997, a couple of weeks after coming to the United States from Tanzania. I didn’t receive any prenatal care over there and so I had to report to get prenatal care over here and that’s when they told me.

Describe your mindset of hearing that diagnosis?

It was such a shock. I was thinking about completely different things. I was 21 years old, I was about to start college and starting a family. It was an unexpected and a very unfortunate thing. I had a real dramatic reaction to it. I was very scared for my life and life of the baby. It was a very scary thing and glad they had a good positive solution to save the baby [from contracting HIV] and keep me alive.

How did you find out about the PMTCT treatment?

I found out a week later from my first visit. I was freaking out and because all I knew back then in Africa that if you get it, you die. I was screaming and panicking thinking I was going to die and they calmed me down saying ‘I wasn’t going to die. We have treatments for this here and your child will be okay. And they gave me the knowledge and it was initially hard for me to believe that it would happen until my child was born because no one was sharing their stories of success.

Despite your uncertainty, why did you decide to try that treatment?

I think any mother wouldn’t think twice about doing something that would protect the life of your child. It was obviously the right one because she’s well, she’s a healthy teenager now. It works.

What did PMTCT treatment consist of?

I took [the medication] AZT every four hours, and I made sure I took it religiously. I would even wake up at night to take it. I was over five months pregnant, and they gave me a twelve percent chance of transmitting it. In Africa the information I had received at the time was that there was nothing I could do to protect the baby.

Were there any setbacks or side effects?

No. I responded very well. I was in worse shape emotionally than physically. I was really distracted emotionally. They did a really good job of making sure I didn’t have any crazy side effects.

How did you feel when you found out that your child was HIV negative?

It was the best news that I had heard after hearing all of the horrible stories associated with HIV. Even though it was three to four months between being diagnosed to her being born, to me it felt like an eternity. It made me really happy and hopeful after being completely broken from hearing the [diagnosis] initially.

Describe how you think it would have been over if you were diagnosed in Tanzania.

It was God’s plan for me not to die. The baby would have been born, but statistically speaking back then, half of the babies born with HIV who don’t receive treatment die before their second birthday and that would have been the case for my baby. I probably would have died three years later. Back then, medicine was scarce and there was lack of treatment options. So I’m very, very lucky about it and it’s why I’m such an advocate for it.

What got you involved with activism?

Nine years after being diagnosed, things had turned around from being scared and sad, I just got tired of being ashamed and hiding. I wanted to make a positive difference in my community. I realized that I could give this information to a mom in my position and that maybe I can bring awareness, and tell them you’re going to be okay, your child is going to be okay. There weren’t a lot of people like me back then talking about it.

How important is it for you to tell you story to others?

It’s important because this is a preventable situation. Since [HIV] is preventable, people need knowledge. But I remember how it felt to be scared. It’s one thing to have it and another thing that to live with the unnecessary stigma. When I share [that I’m HIV positive] I feel powerful and that I’m fighting that stigma.

How were you received?

It was very positive. I was overwhelmed by what people were saying based on feedback. I had to get a separate email address just to answer all of their responses and questions. People have found me on Facebook and friended me there. They never saw anyone that was in their position and that made them feel good.

What advice do you have for people who just received news about HIV?

That it’s going to be ok. I’ve had it for 16 years and it’s going to be okay. That people can see my family and see that we are normal. And even if you do have it then no one else has to get it.

Tell me about your daughter.

My daughter’s name is Florida, she’s 16 sophomore in high school. She is very determined, extremely organized and disciplined. She makes me very happy. She gives me a hope that she will have a bright future and I’m very proud of her.

What do you would want to share with people about HIV?

I know it can be a very nerve wracking thing but you gotta [get tested]. As long as you don’t know the other person’s status you need to protect yourself. Let’s end this disease, and we can start by saving these babies lives. Support organizations that do this work so that future generations will be in support of this. Find out your own status.