Diseases are everywhere, some of them are preventable while others are not. With multiple risk factors and depending upon the nature of the disease, the disease could be treated.

Some diseases sound more horrible than others and are considered life-threatening. Of course, a cancer diagnosis and finding a throat infection isn’t the same. One such troubling disease is HIV and that too for obvious reasons. 

What is HIV? 

HIV or human immune deficiency attacks the human immune system. Untreated HIV could lead to the onset of AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). HIV infects the cells of the human immune system and uses their machinery to replicate itself. Over years, the virus irreversibly damages the immune system leading to severe consequences. 

How to prevent the transmission of HIV? 

Depending upon the stage of infection, the infection could be transmitted from one person to another. Transmission of HIV occurs via the body fluid of an infected person carrying viral loads. These body fluids include blood, vaginal fluids, seminal fluid, breast milk and rectal fluids. Avoiding contact with these fluids is an effective way to get rid of HIV infection, said a renowned infectious disease specialist in Islamabad

Common misconceptions about HIV 

With the advancement of medicine and the availability of treatment options, HIV infections are becoming more manageable. However, the success of HIV treatment is greatly affected by common disease myths. Some common HIV myths are;

1- HIV- a death sentence

HIV is considered a life-threatening disease that ultimately leads to death. However, the advancement in medical sciences has made it possible to increase the lifespan of infected people. Different therapies are used to treat HIV infections and make it living with disease possible. Proper treatment can limit the infection in its current phase preventing disease complications. 

2- HIV diagnosis is possible by just looking at the symptoms

Conventional belief says that we can find if a person has HIV by just looking at the symptoms. However, the symptoms of HIV infection are not remarkable. The overlapping of disease symptoms with other infectious diseases make it difficult to categorize the infection as HIV, told a renowned physician from Begum Akhtar Rukhsana Hospital during a webinar. 

Common symptoms of HIV infection include fever, fatigue and body pain that are not enough to make a diagnosis. HIV diagnosis involves proper testing and diagnostic procedures to find out the actual problem.

3- Only homosexual people get HIV 

Indeed, HIV was mostly found in people who were homosexual and particularly males. But there is no reason to say that heterosexuals can’t develop HIV infections. Recent studies reveal that chances of HIV infection aren’t dependent upon sexual orientation or females just as males can be infected by HIV infection. 

4- HIV infection will lead to AIDS

HIV infection is indeed the cause of AIDS but it doesn’t necessarily mean that all HIV infections will end up as AIDS. AIDS is the third stage of HIV infection. The onset of AIDS can be prevented by taking proper treatment to control HIV. A controlled level of HIV infection along with a healthy immune system can prevent the onset of AIDS. 

5- HIV positive parents can’t have children safely

This misconception arises from the times when there was little and low knowledge of HIV infection and its treatment. With the progress of medical science, now it is possible for an HIV positive mother to safely have HIV negative children. Taking medications during pregnancy and even after birth, a mother can minimize the probability of her baby catching the infection. 

Similarly, in the case of an HIV negative mother who is trying to conceive from HIV positive partners, some medications reduce the risk of transmission of the virus. 

6- With HIV I don’t need to worry about other diseases

This misconception is somehow similar to the first one arising from the belief that HIV patients can’t live longer due to disease complications. It is not necessarily true that an HIV patient can’t live longer. Sticking to your HIV medications and keeping your viral load under control can increase your life expectancy with a life-threatening disease like HIV. Alongside HIV, one should look after the other aspects of health including heart, kidney and other chronic illnesses.