Facts and Fiction

There are a lot of myths surrounding HIV and it can be difficult to know whether the information you have is accurate. The statements below help to separate the facts from the fiction.

  • You can tell who has HIV by looking at them
  • There is a cure for HIV
  • HIV medication is useless
  • The HIV medication given has no adverse side effects
  • The earlier you are diagnosed with HIV and treatment is started, the better your outcome
  • If you have HIV and look after yourself properly, you can expect to live as normal a healthy life as somebody living without HIV.
  • You will never become resistant to your HIV medication.
  • HIV is now known as A Long Term Condition
  • Men who have sex with men are most at risk of HIV as well anyone engaging in anal sex
  • I can get HIV from a mosquito
  • HIV can be passed down from mother to baby in utero
  • Fiction - you just cannot tell. HIV can affect anybody. In many cases there are no symptoms.
  • Fiction - there is no cure for HIV. It is a very complex virus that changes its structure, which makes finding a cure challenging.
  • Fiction - the drugs are very good and enable people to live long lives.
  • Fiction - all drugs have side effects. The good thing about HIV medication is that it stops the HIV virus from multiplying, and increases the effectiveness of the immune system. The negative effects can include headaches, nausea and lypodystrophy (significant fat loss from various parts of the body).
  • FACT – Early diagnosis means you can be regularly monitored by your consultant and can start HIV treatment at the right time. The HIV medication stops the virus from multiplying and causing damage to the immune system.
  • FACT - because the treatment for HIV is so effective, people are expected to live a long healthy life.
  • Fiction - If you do not adhere to the medication as prescribed, you may become resistant to it.
  • FACT – More is known about HIV and the treatment is so effective now, people are expected to live a long, healthy, happy life.
  • FACT - gay bisexual & other men who have sex with men are at the highest risk of HIV because of anal sex. The tissues in the rectum are easily damaged & if semen mixes freely with the blood of the rectum it is easily absorbed by the lining of the rectum. Therefore unprotected anal sex is the highest risk for HIV transmission for everyone.
  • Fiction – Mosquitos do not carry HIV
  • FACT – HIV can be transmitted to the baby from an HIV positive mother. However, with the correct management and treatment, this risk can be reduced to less than 1%