What is a myth? Myth: an idea or story that many people believe, but which is not true....
Myths about HIV are very dangerous. They can cause you to be afraid of something that is not dangerous. Or they can make you feel like something is not dangerous when it really is! So be careful. Sometimes people say things about HIV that are not true.
If you have a question about HIV, talk to POSITIVE LIVING BC, a local HIV organization or a knowledgeable healthcare provider. It is important for people who are HIV-positive and HIV-negative to have correct information to protect yourselves, and others.
- I have just been diagnosed... I am going to die!
This is the biggest myth of all. In fact, people are living with HIV longer today than ever before. HIV medicine has advanced and the new medications allow those infected with HIV to live normal, healthy and productive lives. But the medications need to be taken properly and on time.
- I can’t get HIV from my boyfriend or girlfriend because I know they love me and I trust them
While it’s true that people who love each other wouldn’t intentionally give each other HIV, it’s also true that one partner in a relationship can be HIV-positive and not know it. A person can have HIV for years and not show any symptoms. Even if you are in love, the only way for you to know for sure is if you’re both tested.
- HIV can be spread through tears, sweat, mosquitoes and other insects
This is not true. You can only catch HIV through infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk. The most common ways for HIV to be transmitted are through unprotected sexual contact, sharing needles for drug use or piercing, or sharing tattoo equipment with an HIV-positive person.
- HIV can be spread through casual contact
HIV is not spread through casual contact, so it is impossible to get it from sharing a glass, fork, cigarette, or towel, by shaking hands, kissing or hugging, sharing public washrooms, or using the same gym equipment or pay phones.
- HIV only affects gay men and drug users
This is not true. More and more straight people and seniors are becoming infected with HIV. In fact, HIV can infect people of any age, gender or sexual orientation. People who have sex with many people are at the highest risk. Unfortunately, sometimes people don’t tell the truth about their sexual past. To protect yourself, practice safe sex and get tested.
- HIV testing can’t be trusted
HIV test results are correct 99% of the time. Plus, all positive test results are followed up with a second test just to make sure.
- There’s a cure for HIV
No. HIV medication helps people with their illness, but does not cure it. If you take your medication every day, it lowers the amount of HIV in your body. But there will always be some HIV in you. You can still give HIV to someone else so you should always practice safe sex, safe drug use and safe tattooing methods.
- We both have HIV so we don’t need a condom
Not true. You can pass on or get other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that make people with HIV even sicker.
- HIV is the same as AIDS
No, this couldn’t be further from the truth. HIV is the virus you catch in the first place - AIDS is when you get other sicknesses caused by untreated HIV. Knowing the difference between the two is very important.