16:24, 17.Apr 2018
1. Pucker up – you can’t get HIV from kissing
“You can’t get HIV from any kind of day-to-day contact, whether that’s sharing a glass, or cutlery, or kissing or hugging.
“We’ve known this for decades, but in our recent polling we found that one in five people still think you can get HIV from kissing. So there’s more work to do to bust that myth around HIV.”
2. HIV isn’t something that happens to other people, it can affect anyone
“Yes, certain groups are disproportionately affected by HIV in the UK, including gay and bisexual men, and black African communities, but HIV can affect anyone. In fact, a third of all people living with HIV in the UK are women, and that 25 per cent of new diagnoses are in women. We’re on a mission to ensure women are invisible no longer when it comes to HIV and women’s needs are part of decision-making, research and service design.”
3. People living with HIV who are on effective treatment can’t pass it on
“HIV treatment works by reducing the amount of virus in the blood to undetectable levels, which protects the immune system from damage. This also means, because the amount of virus in the body is so low, that HIV can’t be passed on – with or without a condom.
“This game-changing message has now been endorsed by hundredsof global organisations, including us at Terrence Higgins Trust. It’s based on the most robust of evidence, including a major study of nearly 600 couples where one person in the couple was HIV positive and one HIV negative. There were 58,000 recorded acts of sex without a condom over a number of years, and zero new transmissions.
“For context, 97 per cent of people in the UK who are accessing treatment have an undetectable viral load, which means they can’t pass on HIV. The issue is the estimated 12 per cent of people in the UK who have HIV but don’t know about it. That’s why we need to educate people about HIV and promote regular testing.”
4. HIV isn’t a 'death sentence' anymore – but stigma remains a huge issue
“While there’s still no cure, HIV is now a long-term manageable condition thanks to treatment. In the 1980s and 90s, HIV was a death sentence and so many people were lost, but now, if you’re diagnosed early and access treatment, you will live as long as anyone else.
“In fact, we’re now seeing the first generation of people growing older with HIV, and over 40 per cent of all people living with HIV are now over 50. Growing older with HIV comes with its own challenges, but it was something that was unthinkable just 30 years ago.
“And, while medically, we’ve come so far in the fight against HIV, many people’s views haven’t kept up with these advances - HIV remains a highly stigmatised health condition. Tackling stigma and normalising HIV testing are key if we’re to end the epidemic.”
5. HIV is still an issue
“Just because there’s not a leaflet about HIV hitting every doormat in the country, or because it’s not on the news every night, doesn’t mean it's gone away. It’s dangerous to look back at the 1980s and think of HIV in a sentimental way, because it’s still an issue today.
“Last year, we saw the biggest drop in new diagnoses in the UK since the start of the epidemic, but we can’t afford to get complacent if we’re to achieve our aim of ending new transmissions. We have all the tools we need to get there – including PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) which you take to protect yourself from HIV – but we must utilise everything available and ensure no-one’s left behind. And, of course, HIV remains a killer in many countries in the world."
6. HIV positive parents can have HIV negative children
“Brilliantly, mother-to-baby transmission in the UK is now almost eliminated, but we found that only 29 per cent of people are aware that people on effective HIV treatment can have children without passing on the virus.
“Routine testing for all women in pregnancy means that, if a woman tests positive, she can be put on treatment and, along with other interventions, this will protect the child from HIV. Similarly, a man who’s living with HIV and on effective treatment can’t pass on HIV and can therefore have a HIV negative child – but it’s advised to contact your HIV clinician before trying to conceive.
“We work with many HIV positive mothers at Terrence Higgins Trust to share their story and show that HIV doesn’t stop you from achieving what you want to.”
Source : www.cosmopolitan.com