Misconceptions about AIDS and how to support HIV positive people
Today December 1st is World AIDS Day; A day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS epidemic caused by the HIV virus every year since 1988. AIDS, which in Turkish is defined as a syndrome that causes damage to the immune system by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), increases the risk of contracting other diseases by reducing people’s body resistance. Therefore, it is very important to inform people about the prevention and treatment of AIDS.
On the other hand, overcoming societal prejudice against HIV-positive people is also crucial in the fight against this epidemic. We discussed the emergence and evolution of the HIV virus in our article titled “The First Emergence and Spread of HIV”. In this article, we’ve brought together the well-known misconceptions about this issue and what can be done to support people who are HIV positive.
Misconceptions about AIDS
Although it is essential for HIV-positive people to start the treatment process and be accepted by society, unfortunately, some well-known mistakes can negatively affect this process. Among the most common prejudices:
Myth 1: HIV is a deadly disease
Not anymore! When AIDS was first discovered, there was no effective treatment, so reports of HIV deaths were common. However, thanks to advances in technology and improved medical interventions, AIDS has evolved from a deadly disease to a treatable disease. With the right diagnosis, treatment and positive lifestyle changes, millions of people living with HIV can live healthy and long lives. Improved treatments over the past two decades have saved nearly 17 million lives from AIDS-related deaths.
Myth 2: AIDS is a gay disease
No. The first cases of AIDS documented in the United States in the 1980s were among gay men and nothing was known about the virus at the time, so there was talk of it being a gay health problem. However, HIV is not just a disease that affects gay people. It can be seen in people of any gender and sexual orientation.
Myth 3: HIV-positive women cannot give birth
Wrong, he can. Moreover, they can give birth to children without HIV. HIV-positive women can give birth to healthy babies if they continue to receive optimal treatment throughout pregnancy and while breastfeeding. While it is true that HIV is a virus that can be passed from mother to child, this situation can be prevented by developing treatments. Globally, 84% of HIV-positive pregnant women receive life-saving treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission and have healthy babies. It is hoped that this treatment will completely prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2030.
Myth #4: AIDS is transmitted through kissing, touching, touching
One of the most common misconceptions concerns how AIDS is transmitted. It is believed that contact with HIV-positive people in the community is the transmission of the disease. However, HIV is not transmitted by shaking hands, hugging, or kissing. According to the Centers for Disease Control, HIV is not transmitted through air, water, saliva, sweat, or tears. In other words, being in the same environment with HIV-infected people and breathing the same air does not create a contagious effect. The virus can only be transmitted through certain bodily fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions, rectal secretions, or breast milk. Therefore, unprotected sex can increase the infection. However, during intercourse between an HIV-positive and HIV-negative couple, condoms are very effective in preventing HIV transmission. Condoms are also known to provide greater protection when combined with antiretrovirals. In other words, unlike what is depicted in the movie Fig Jam, which went through a certain period, there is no risk that an HIV-positive person will have to completely avoid contact with their partner, and this process can be brought under control with the help of appropriate methods of prevention and drug treatment.
Myth 5: HIV always causes AIDS
HIV is the infection that causes AIDS. However, this does not mean that all HIV-positive people will develop AIDS. AIDS is an immune system deficiency syndrome that is the result of HIV attacking the immune system over time and is associated with a weakened immune response and opportunistic infections. AIDS can be prevented with early treatment of HIV infection. Current therapies allow HIV infection to be controlled and kept low, maintaining a healthy immune system over the long term and therefore preventing opportunistic infections and AIDS diagnosis.
How can we support HIV positive people?
You can change your mind to create a supportive environment for HIV positive people, who are often prejudiced in society, and make life easier for them by accepting some understanding.
An HIV diagnosis is news that changes a person’s life. When someone else shares this diagnosis with you, listen to them and let them feel that you are with them. Share as much as he is willing to tell; Don’t ask offensive questions, don’t make comments that make you feel bad. Listen without judgment and let him feel that he is still the same person.
Learn more about HIV: look for answers to questions such as what it is, how it is/is not transmitted, how to treat it, and how people can stay healthy with HIV. When you learn about this and change your false beliefs and get rid of your unfounded fears, you can be more supportive of the person diagnosed with HIV and choose the right approach.
3. Promote healing
People who have recently been diagnosed with HIV may find it difficult to take the first step towards treatment. Instead of accepting the situation, they may want to deny it, run away. However, treatment should begin as soon as possible after diagnosis. The sooner the HIV treatment process with curative and health-improving medical interventions is started, the lower the amount of HIV in the blood of people with HIV to undetectable levels. You can help the person who shared the diagnosis with you start a long and healthy life by encouraging them to start treatment as soon as possible.
4. Don’t neglect yourself
The more difficult the process of diagnosis and treatment for a person, the more difficult it can be for those who are with him. Fighting HIV and supporting this fight is not an easy road. For this reason, it is helpful not to neglect yourself when trying to support. Remember to rest, recuperate, and build your own support network so you don’t feel alone. Even if you don’t spare the support you can, the important thing is that the person is willing for his/her treatment; So don’t stress yourself unnecessarily.
Source: hiv.gov, Healthline, red.org.
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