Beginning to understand the challenges of HIV/AIDS starts by dealing with some of the common myths people tend to believe about the disease. Following are some of the myths and the actual facts about the disease.
1. HIV/AIDS is mostly a disease of homosexual men.
Primarily spread by heterosexual sex, HIV/AIDS now infects as many women as men worldwide. Although the disease was first recognized in the United States among gay men, it is also significantly spread among IV drug users. Internationally, it is more often a disease of heterosexuals.
2. HIV/AIDS is mostly an African problem.
Found in every country in the world, HIV infections are growing most rapidly in countries outside of Africa, including India and Russia. Many African countries have been decimated by HIV/AIDS, but the impact is also significant in Asia, Eastern Europe, and India.
3. HIV/AIDS spreads mostly because of poor moral choices.
Women are often infected by their husbands. Children most often contract HIV by being born to HIV+ mothers. It isn’t helpful or meaningful to determine who is at fault or who is an innocent victim.
4. Plenty of money is being spent on fighting HIV/AIDS.
While a great deal of money is being spent by governments, private organizations, and individuals to fight HIV/AIDS, much more is needed.
5. HIV/AIDS is no longer a problem in developed countries like Canada,United States e.t.c.
Because medications (Antiretrovirals or ARVs) are widely available in the developed countries, the death rate has decreased. But the number of people living with HIV/AIDS has not decreased and the rate of new infections is not declining.
6. ARVs are widely available.
While antiretrovirals are becoming more available, they are still difficult to find in many rural areas and in some countries. Both drugs and systems to distribute them are needed in many poor countries.
7. A cure exists for HIV/AIDS.
While there are treatments to prolong life, there is no cure. Many scientists are working on a cure but few believe there will ever be one way to effectively cure someone because the virus constantly changes.
8. There is no hope for those with HIV/AIDS.
Great progress is being made in treatments and the rate of infant infection in some countries is dropping rapidly. There is also a dropping rate of new infections in many countries with strong prevention programs.
9. If I’m not HIV+, the disease doesn’t affect me.
The high rate of HIV/AIDS infections is causing instability in many countries and reversing the progress made in development. It is also causing a worldwide tuberculosis pandemic. Every community is affected. A pandemic affects everyone even if not immediately recognized.
10. There’s nothing I can do.
Everyone can do something. First, become educated. Then help teach others in your church, school, and community. Begin to care and pray about how you and your church, school and community can become involved. Begin to share your knowledge with your peers to help break HIV stigma and discrimination that exists in most communities today and to encourage others to be a part of this fight to end stigma of those affected or infected with HIV/AIDS.
.: Joel Savage