The more informed you are about HIV, the easier it is to prevent its spread. Let’s separate fact from fiction.
You can have HIV for 10 years and not display any symptoms.
FACT. You can have HIV for many years before showing severe signs of illness. But remember, just because you don’t feel sick doesn’t mean you’re not sick.
There is a vaccine to prevent HIV infection.
FICTION. There is no vaccine to prevent HIV infection.
HIV only affects gay men and drug users.
FICTION. Anyone who practises at-risk behaviour such as unsafe sex can be infected with HIV. This includes men, women, seniors and teens, straight, gay or non-drug users.
HIV and AIDS are the same thing.
FICTION. HIV is a virus that causes AIDS. AIDS is the most severe form of HIV infection and is defined as the development of a very serious opportunistic infection or cancer – the ones that usually develop in people with a CD4 count of less than 200. If people infected with HIV are not treated, most will eventually develop AIDS.
HIV infection can be cured.
FICTION. Sadly, there is no cure for HIV infection at this time, which is why it is important to stay proactive in preventing infection. Treatment programs and medications, as well as a better understanding of how HIV acts in the body, are helping people to live normal, productive lives.
People with HIV can look and feel well.
FACT. A person with HIV can stay feeling healthy for a long time, especially if diagnosed early and treated promptly as the need arises.
I have been with the same partner for over a year and we no longer use condoms because we’re monogamous. So I don’t need to get tested, we’re both healthy.
FICTION. Even if you are in a monogamous relationship, it is important to get tested for HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) before engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse, since the virus can be in your body for up to 10 years before you show symptoms. So unless you get tested you won’t know for sure.