Even though the facts about HIV are well known and agreed upon by every HIV specialist and every single HIV/AIDS organization in the United States, there remains a lot of misinformation about HIV.
"A lot of people spend way too much energy trying to figure out where this virus came from. I always go back to the analogy: If you own a house, and the house is on fire, you're not going to worry at that moment about how the fire started. You'll think about how you're going to get the heck out of there! I'll tell you right now, when I wasn't taking medications, or when the medications weren't working, I got sick ... Now I'm undetectable because of taking medication."
MYTH: HIV CAN BE TRANSMITTED CASUALLY.
REALITY: There are no documented cases of HIV being transmitted casually through handshakes, hugging, sharing cups, dinner plates or using the same bathrooms.
MYTH: HIV DOESN'T CAUSE AIDS.
REALITY: After more than 30 years, there is a mountain of proof that HIV causes AIDS. Everyone who ever got sick or died from AIDS had one thing in common: They had HIV.
MYTH: WOMEN LIVING WITH HIV SHOULD NOT GET PREGNANT.
REALITY: More and more women with HIV are giving birth to HIV-negative babies. By taking the right HIV drugs while pregnant -- taking meds at the time of childbirth (except her own regimen) is not the guideline if the woman is on an effective regimen -- an HIV-positive woman can reduce the risk of passing the virus to her baby to less than 2 percent. HIV treatment can help an HIV-positive mother and her child live long, healthy lives together.
MYTH: THERE'S A CURE FOR HIV, BUT ONLY THE RICH HAVE IT.
REALITY: If rich people had a cure for HIV, Magic Johnson, who is a multimillionaire, would be cured. Yes, Magic looks fantastic; and even with HIV, he's healthier than many HIV-negative Americans. But that's because he takes care of himself and is on HIV treatment -- the exact same treatment available to everyone with HIV in the United States. Magic's wife, Cookie, has admitted that she was wrong to say that he was "cured." She meant that the medications he was taking had gotten rid of almost all the virus in his body, but he still remains HIV positive.
MYTH: TAKING HIV MEDICATIONS MEANS YOU DON'T HAVE TO PRACTICE SAFER SEX.
REALITY: Taking HIV medications IS practicing safer sex. When taken as directed, the drugs can get rid of virtually all the virus in your blood. This can decrease the risk of transmitting HIV during condomless sex to basically zero. There is also a medication that HIV-negative people can take every day to dramatically reduce their risk of acquiring HIV. Condoms are still important to prevent unwanted pregnancy, as well as other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
To read other HIV/AIDS myths, click here.