HIV and AIDS: Major World Health Problems
HIV and AIDS are among the most pressing of the world’s health problems. The World Health Organization estimates that as of December of 2008 (the latest that statistics are available), 33.4 million people were living with the AIDS virus. More than 50,000 Americans contract the virus each year. Unfortunately there are some HIV and AIDS misconceptions out there that are encouraging the spread of this deadly disease. Here are some of the most common.
The Virus Can Be Spread By Saliva
Despite widespread public-education campaigns in the 1990s and early 2000s, a shocking number of people continue to believe that the HIV / AIDS virus can be spread via saliva. In June of 2010, a Denver HIV + man was charged with “second-degree assault with a deadly weapon” for spitting on another man during an altercation. Fortunately, cooler, more educated heads prevailed, and the charges were dropped.
The HIV virus cannot be spread by spitting, kissing, or other forms of casual contact. It can be spread only through direct exchange of bodily fluids, such as by sharing needles or unprotected sex (WebMD).
Only Certain Types of People get AIDS
This is one of the most dangerous HIV and AIDS misconceptions. Though certain groups (such as men who have sex with men, and people who inject illegal drugs) are statistically more likely to be HIV+, anyone can become infected, and a blood test is the only way to determine a person’s HIV status.
HIV and AIDS do not discriminate, and AIDS is not a “gay man’s disease” or a “drug addict disease”. Any person of any race, ethnicity, creed, sexual orientation, gender, or income level can be infected. If you have unprotected sex with an infected partner, you are at risk whether you are engaging in straight sex or gay sex.
The only sure way to prevent infection is to avoid sex or to have sexual contact with a single partner whose status is known. If abstinence or monogamy is not an acceptable option, barrier methods such as condoms and dental dams must be used every single time there is sexual contact.
New Drugs Can Keep People Well
It is true that new antiretroviral drugs are extending the lifespan of HIV + people (WebMD), and that the sooner treatment begins after infection, the greater the chances for longevity. Nevertheless, nobody should avoid safer-sex practices because drugs exist to treat HIV and AIDS.
HIV and AIDS medications are very expensive, treatment can produce severe side affects, and there is still no cure for the disease. Prevention is always better than treatment. If you’d like to learn more about HIV and AIDS, check out these great articles, available right here on BrightHub!
Associated Press. (2008, August 2). Number of Americans who get AIDS each year 40 percent higher than reported. New York Daily News. Retrieved 19 June, 2010 from https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2008/08/02/2008-08-02_number_of_americans_who_get_aids_each_ye.html
Heywood, T. (2010, 11 June). Denver Man Faces Deadly Weapon Charge Over Spitting While HIV-Positive. Change.org. Retrieved 19 June 2010 from https://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/denver_man_faces_deadly_weapon_charge_over_spitting_while_hiv-positive
MTV’s 411 on HIV Staff. Can you tell if someone has HIV or AIDS by looking at them? (n.d). Retrieved 19 June, 2010 from https://www.thinkhiv.org/dp/node/652
WebMD Medical Reference. (2009). Top Ten Myths and Misconceptions about HIV and AIDS. WebMD.com. Retrieved 17 June, 2010 from https://www.webmd.com/hiv-aids/top-10-myths-misconceptions-about-hiv-aids
World Health Organization Staff. Global Summary of HIV / AIDS Epidemic. (2008, December). World Health Organization. Retrieved 19 June, 2010 from https://www.who.int/hiv/data/2009_global_summary.gif