Thursday, August 2, 2012

Top 5 HIV Myths Busted

The word HIV still causes unease among a lot of us. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions around this infection; including the one that it is not safe to share food with someone who has contracted the virus. According to Dr Shivi Jaggi, a sexologist, one of the causes of HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is unprotected sex. “It gradually destroys the immunity of your body, but a person infected with HIV can lead a normal life,” he says. So, Let's take a look at few HIV myths which are busted...


Myth 1: HIV is the same as AIDS


HIV is not the same as AIDS! Period. HIV can lead to AIDS or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. A person could get or become more susceptible to AIDS only when their immunity is lowered. “However, proper precautions and medication can delay or even prevent an HIV positive person from getting AIDS,” says Dr Jaggi.

Myth 2: I am faithful to my partner, I cannot get HIV


The HIV virus can be transmitted through other mediums like use of infected needles, transfusion of infected blood, unprotected oral sex, anal sex, etc. “Being monogamous does not necessarily make you safe,” says Mumbai-based sexologist, Dr Ketan Parmar. However, it can reduce your chances of getting infected.

Myth 3: People with HIV cannot hug or share food


HIV can be contracted through unprotected sex with an infected or multiple partners, sharing needles, transfusion of infected blood and unprotected oral and anal sex. Your saliva contains very minute traces of the virus which means kissing cannot transmit the virus. "Unless one of the person has cuts or sores in their mouth," says Dr Parmar. Sharing food, and utensils does not put you at risk .

Myth 4: Women infected with HIV cannot have children


Women who are infected by the HIV virus are afraid they might pass on the infection to the infant. “But with antiretroviral therapy, the chances of transmitting from mother to child is very low,” says Mumbai-based gynaecologist Rishma Dhillon Pai. This gives many women a chance to conceive in spite of being infected. The medication should be taken through pregnancy and after, as recommended by your doctor. “If there are any complications, one may have to opt for a caesarean,” she says. Mothers should however avoid breast feeding as that could pass on the infection to the child.

Myth 5: You don’t need a condom for oral sex


HIV can be contracted through oral sex. “If semen from an infected partner enters your mouth and you have cuts, sores or bleeding gums, you are at risk,” says Dr Jaggi. This could also mean that you could pass on the virus if you are infected. You could get infected with HIV through anal sex as well.