AIDS Myths and Misunderstandings

Hey Guys! Have you ever wondered why are they so many AIDS myths? When AIDS became known, it was a very mysterious disease that caused the death of many people. Back then, there were many unanswered questions about the disease, people reacted with fear and came up with stories to back up their fear. And surprisingly, most of these had to do with how easy it was to become infected with HIV, while the truth is most of these are not true.

Transmission Myths

Many people believed that HIV and AIDS could be transmitted by a mosquito bite, by sharing a drinking glass with someone with AIDS, by being around someone with AIDS who was coughing, by hugging or kissing someone with AIDS, and so on. Transmission can only occur if someone is exposed to blood, semen, vaginal fluid or mother's milk from an infected person. There is no documentation of transmission from the tears or saliva of an infected person.

Myth: A woman with HIV infection can't have children without infecting them.
Reality: Without any treatment, HIV-infected mothers pass HIV to their newborns about 25% of the time. However, with modern treatments, this rate has dropped to only about 2%.

Myth: HIV is being spread by needles left in theater seats or vending machine coin returns.
Reality: There is no documented case of this type of transmission.

Myths About a Cure

It can be very scary to have HIV infection or AIDS. The course of the disease is not very predictable. Some people get very sick in just a few months. Others live healthy lives for 20 years or more. The treatments can be difficult to take, with serious side effects. Not everyone can afford the medications. It's not surprising that scam artists have come up with several "cures" for AIDS that involve a variety of substances. Unfortunately, none of these "cures" work. A very unfortunate myth in some parts of the world is that having sex with a virgin will cure AIDS. As a result, many young girls have been exposed to HIV and have developed AIDS. There is no evidence to support this belief.

Myth: Current medications can cure AIDS. It's no big deal if you get infected.
Reality: Today's medications have cut the death rate from AIDS by about 80%. They are also easier to take than they used to be. However, they still have side effects, are very expensive, and have to be taken every day for the rest of your life. If you miss too many doses, HIV can develop resistance to the drugs you are taking and they'll stop working.

AIDS Is a Death Sentence

In the 1980s, there was a very high death rate from AIDS. However, medications have improved dramatically and so has the life span of people with HIV infection. If you have access to antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) and to medical monitoring, there's no reason you can't live a long life even with HIV infection or AIDS.

Myths About Medications

It has been very challenging for doctors to choose the best anti-HIV medications (ARVs) for their patients. When the first drugs were developed, they had to be taken as many as three times a day. Some drugs had complicated requirements about storage, or what kind of food they had to be taken with (or how long you had to wait after eating before taking a dose). The reality of ARVs has changed dramatically. However, there are still some myths:

Myth: You have to take your doses exactly 12 (or 8, or 24) hours apart.
Reality: Medications today are fairly forgiving. Although you will have the most consistent blood levels of your drugs if they are taken at even intervals through the day, they won't stop working if you're off by an hour or two. However, people taking Crixivan® (indinavir) without ritonavir need to be very careful about timing.

Myth: You have to take 100% of your doses on time or else they'll stop working.
Reality: It's very important to take AIDS medications correctly. In fact, if you miss more than about 5% of your doses, HIV has an easier time developing resistance and possibly being able to multiply even when you're taking ARVs. However, 100% adherence is not realistic for just about anyone. Do the best you can and be sure to let your health care provider what's going on.

Myth: Current drugs are so strong that you can stop taking them (take a drug holiday) with no problem.
Reality: Ever since the first AIDS drugs were developed, patients have wanted to stop taking them due to side effects or just being reminded that they had AIDS. There have been many studies of "treatment interruptions" and all of them have shown that stopping your ARVs is very likely to cause problems. You could give the virus a chance to multiply or your count of CD4 cells could drop, a sign of immune damage.

Myth: AIDS drugs are poison and are more dangerous than the HIV virus.
Reality: When the first AIDS drugs became available, they weren't as good as current medications. People still died of AIDS-related conditions. It's true that some people get serious side effects from AIDS medications, but the death rate in the US has dropped by about 80%. Researchers are working hard to make HIV treatments easier and safer to use.

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1 Comentário:

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