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Myth Versus Reality
Part of HIV and Me: An African American's Guide to Living With HIV

January 2011

Myth Versus Reality

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.

Greg Braxton

"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."

-- Greg Braxton, diagnosed in 1994

To read more about Greg, click here.

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 almost 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: HIV-POSITIVE WOMEN 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 -- especially during childbirth -- an HIV-positive woman can reduce the risk of passing the virus to her baby to 1 or 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 or AIDS, Magic Johnson, who is a multimillionaire, would be cured. Yes, Magic looks fantastic and -- even with HIV -- is 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: The drugs can get rid of nearly all the virus in your blood. Although this will decrease the risk of infection to your sex partners, your blood, semen or vaginal fluids still contain HIV. This means that protected sex is the rule to keep your partner safe. Plus, you can get in legal trouble if you don't tell your partner about your HIV.

To read other HIV/AIDS myths, click here.


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