World AIDS Day, marked on 1 December every year since 1988, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection, and mourning those who have died of the disease. Government and health officials, non-governmental organizations and individuals around the world observe the day, often with education on AIDS prevention and control.
Here are some facts and myths about HIV/AIDS:
- 1. ARE HIV AND AIDS THE SAME THING?
No. When someone is described as living with HIV, they have the HIV virus in their body. A person is considered to have developed AIDS when the immune system is so weak it can no longer fight off a range of diseases with which it would normally cope.
- 2. WILL HIV DEFINITELY BE PASSED ON DURING SEX BETWEEN AN HIV POSITIVE AND AN HIV NEGATIVE PERSON?
During sex, it is not an automatic consequence that HIV will be transmitted. Compared with some other infectious diseases, risk of HIV infection from a single act of sex is usually low. There are other factors which can increase and reduce the risk of HIV transmission, and if someone living with HIV is on effective treatment, with an undetectable viral load, there is no risk of them passing on HIV. However a condom is still the safest and easiest way to prevent transmission.
- 3. CAN YOU GET HIV FROM ORAL SEX?
The risk of HIV transmission from performing oral sex is low but it can still happen. It is best to avoid giving oral sex if you have cuts or sores in your mouth or bleeding gums, as this increases the risk of HIV entering your body.
- 1. ONLY GAY MEN GET HIV
Gay men are particularly affected by HIV as a group but HIV can still affect anyone and there are many heterosexuals living with HIV. The majority of new HIV diagnoses in 2010 were acquired heterosexually. Anyone who has sex without a condom or shares needles when injecting drugs is at risk of HIV.
- 2. YOU CAN GET HIV FROM SOMEONE WHO SPITS AT YOU OR BITES YOU
There is no risk of HIV infection from spitting and the risk of infection from biting is negligible. With over 60 million people infected with HIV worldwide over 25 years, there have only ever been four possible reports of HIV being transmitted through biting, all of which occurred in extremely specific and unusual circumstances.
- 3. YOU CAN GET HIV IF YOU STAND ON OR PICK UP A USED NEEDLE
There has never been a case of HIV infection from picking up or standing on a used needle in the UK. There have only ever been five cases of HIV infection from being pricked with a needle, and these all occurred in healthcare settings and there have been none since 1999. HIV is a very fragile virus that does not survive for long when exposed to the environment.
- 4. HIV CAN BE PASSED ON THROUGH SHARING RAZORS OR TOOTHBRUSHES
HIV cannot be passed on by sharing razors or toothbrushes, even if you are sharing with an HIV positive person. However, for general hygiene purposes it is advisable not to share these personal items as they do carry general bacteria.
More data from 2016 (recent): http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/fact-sheet