HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus, attacks the body’s immune system. When left untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, which can be a serious and life-threatening health condition. HIV has proven to be a very devastating virus throughout history, but today, thanks to incredible medical advances, that is no longer the case.
There are plenty of misconceptions about who can contract HIV and how it is passed that are dangerous and can lead to an increased risk of transmission among sexually active individuals. So, please take a look at these common myths about HIV and understand the reality behind them.
MYTH: ONLY INDIVIDUALS IN THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY GET HIV.
Though rates among those in this community remain disproportionately higher, anyone can contract HIV. Over the years, many have referred to HIV as the “gay disease” or “LGBTQ+ disease,” which perpetuates the myth that only members of this community can contract this HIV, and is untrue.
MYTH: THOSE IN MONOGAMOUS RELATIONSHIPS DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT HIV.
Even if you are only having sex with one individual exclusively, it is still important to regularly get tested for HIV. According to a 2009 study about HIV transmission among men in the United States, 68% of HIV transmissions occurred between monogamous sexual partners. You can never be certain, so getting tested regularly regardless of your background or relationship status, is crucial to prevention.
MYTH: YOU CAN’T CONTRACT HIV FROM ORAL SEX.
The chance of contracting HIV from oral sex is low, but transmission can still happen in rare cases. The likelihood of transmission is higher if there are any cuts or ulcers in your mouth, so be sure to check before engaging in oral sex.
MYTH: YOU WILL CONTRACT HIV IF YOU HAVE SEX WITH SOMEONE WHO IS HIV-POSITIVE.
There are plenty of ways to remain HIV-negative while engaging in sex with someone who is HIV-positive. These methods include:
- Using condoms
- Using lube to prevent tears in the skin or to keep condoms from breaking
- Get tested to ensure you are HIV-negative
- Consider PrEP, a prevention strategy that lessens your risk of contracting HIV.
- Consider PEP, a prevention strategy that can be used in an emergency if you may have been exposed after sex.
MYTH: HIV IS A DEATH SENTENCE.
This is in no way the case! There have been plenty of medical advances in the treatment and care for those positive for HIV in recent years. HIV today is an easily treatable, long-term health condition, meaning anyone with HIV can expect to live a long, healthy life if they take good care of themselves and take their necessary medications.
HIV Testing in Pennsylvania
If you’re looking to get tested for HIV, go to a medical center that is safe, welcoming, and where patient care for all is the top priority. Here at Novus ACS, we work hard to provide FREE and confidential HIV testing and care for every individual that needs it, regardless of your background. Visit our website to learn more and schedule an appointment today!