HIV misconceptions

Intercourse with a virgin will cure AIDS (Meel, 2003) , intercourse with an animal will prevent and cure AIDS. These are just but a few misconceptions which people have been made to believe about the HIV epidemic in the world. People have committed terrible acts such as raping children and having intercourse with animals in the name of curing their HIV status. What needs to be asked is ;are these misconceptions really true? Organizations which are fighting against the epidemic are on the first line and have established their own misconceptions will the world tends to believe.

Different persons have supported them and they have almost become real. The various misconceptions about the HIV epidemic will be highly discussed and will be answering the following question: Are the misconceptions necessary in fighting the HIV epidemic? There are various misconceptions which continue to used by bodies and agencies about the HIV epidemiology and its transmission dynamics. They are usually used to support the prevailing socially and politically correct though epidemiologically incorrect paradigm of UNAIDS.

One of the misconceptions is that virtually every one is at an almost equal risk of getting infected with HIV. This misconception was derived from the initial short doubling times when the reported AIDS cases in the early 1980s led to a false conclusion that AIDS was caused by an agent which was thought to be highly infectious. Presence of high risk behaviors in the world such as homosexual and heterosexual promiscuous behaviors and sharing of drug injecting objects in populations also led to the belief that all the populations will be infected by the HIV epidemics.

(Moore & Rosenthal, 1998). The second misconception is that HIV ‘bridge’ populations will invariably ignite heterosexual HIV epidemics. This means that the bisexual male or the IDUs serve as a bridge for HIV entry into the rest of the heterosexual population. However, what has been ignored all along is that this kind of bridging has and continues to occur from non epidemic transmission between the HIV discordant couples, that is transmission from an infected person to the regular sex partners or partner (James, 2007).

Currently, this is the predominant mode of transmission of HIV throughout the world although these are bridges to nowhere. (James, 2007). Third is that all HIV risk behaviors result in HIV epidemics. It should be noted that HIV transmission is very high in commercial sex workers especially where partners are exchanges frequently. But the transmission is low in countries where the country is able to sustain the HIV epidemic. The fourth misconception is that poverty, discrimination and the lack of access to health care are the major determinants of the HIV epidemic preference in populations.

Although this issue is socially and politically correct, the wealthy people in the poor countries where the populations are not able to access health care have multiple sex partners therefore although they are able to access health services are exposed to the risks of being infected with HIV. (James, 2007). The fifth misconception is that HIV prevalence increasing to records high where in 2005 there was more than 40 million people in the world living in AIDS and that 5million have been newly infected.

These overestimated figures helps the agencies to cause alarm to the world, however global and regional HIV rates have remained stable and it has remained concentrated in the highest level of risk behavior. Scientific study on the transmission of HIV virus from one person to another show why these are misconceptions. (Swedin, 2005). According to (Shroud, 1999), Scientifically, for a HIV transmission to take place, there is a requirement of a high significant amount of blood or sexual fluids with high concentration of HIV virus per minute of the amount of blood.

There has to be a presence of correct variant strains of the virus, transfer of sufficient amount of blood through breaks on a persons skin or mucosa to the recipient who was probably and at a high level susceptible to the infection, due to the presence of activated lymphocytes. (Desjarlais, 1995). Science hold that for HIV infection to take place, there has to excretion from an infected person, the virus has to have a conducive environment for survival such as body fluids, the virus has to enter the body of a person therefore the infection will occur.

Other people are afraid that being bitten by an insect such as mosquito which has bitten an infected person will lead to HIV infections. They argue that insects are flying syringes and just like needles and syringes, the insects can infect them. However according to scientific study, the amount of blood in the mouth of an insect is too small to carry enough volume of blood with HIV virus. there is also no epidemiological evidence that shows that arthropods transmit HIV.

Body contacts such as sports which may involve boxing or football where there may be collision and two people are injured, one of them cannot get infected due to this contact. (Brody, 1994). There are various reasons why various people tend to hold on to these misconceptions. The HIV and AIDS activists usually do not acknowledge the fact that there if a requirement of high risk patterns and preference of HIV risk behaviors for epidemic HIV transmission, (Johanson, 2007).

The activists fear any further stigmatization of people of the population groups who are already marginalized and have very high levels of HIV risky behaviors. People should be aware of the fact that the risk of transmission from a single coital act according to the studies is very low. It shows that in every 1000 persons or less, an estimate of about 1 person is infected from the single coital act. (Karim &Ramjee, 1998). Another reason why UNAIDS and other mainstream agencies continue to hold these misconceptions is because they need them to support their paradigm.

This is because it is clear that without an aggressive prevention program directed to the general population about HIV transmission and epidemiology and especially in youth, it will only be a matter of time before the HIV heterosexual transmission epidemic will break out in the populations where the HIV presence is low. The AIDS activists also stick to the misconceptions and especially the fifth one where the number of the affected people are exaggerated.

This is because of the fear that the people who support them with donations will find out that the numbers are not alarming and therefore they may stop their donor funds. They also fear that people in the infected populations may find the HIV virus not to be very alarming therefore continue with bad behavior which will increase, (Padian, Marquis &Francis). There are various social institutions which motivate people to perpetuate these misconceptions, these institutions are such as United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), mainstream AIDS agencies and HIV/AIDS activists.

These institutions encourage use of these misconceptions so that the world can see the urgency of the matter and find ways in which they can curb the epidemic. They say that with application of all doom and gloom of the HIC/AIDS scenarios and without the alarming releases and news about the epidemic, the public and the policy makers might not continue to give the programs the same attention that they are given. (Brody, 1994).

According to ((Moore & Rosenthal, 1993)), there are various interpersonal dynamics which tend to give support to the misconceptions held on AIDS. These dynamics tend to support them and their use for the purpose of getting help. One individual, who was the minister of health in Philippines after being questions about the large and exaggerated numbers of the infected persons said that accuracy is not needed for advocacy. This therefore means that to get attention, issues of HIV have to be exaggerated and misconceptions have to be used.

According to (Moore & Rosenthal, 1993), the primary determinants of infectious disease epidemiology like HIV is getting involved in risky activities such as having unprotected sex with concurrent or multiple partners or a continuous sharing of equipments of drug injection such as needles with other people who are using the drugs. (Kelly, 1995) & (Singer, 1997). Since epidemic transmission of HIV has been documented in areas where the risky behaviors are present, the only logical thing that can be concluded from this therefore, is that the absence of the risky behaviors can result to non occurrence of HIV transmission, (Voeller, 1991).

There are no clear answers to the major determinants of HIV risky behaviors which lead to its transmission. While most of the activists blame it on poverty and discrimination of people who conduct the risky behaviors, others find the determinants to being social, religious cultural, and economic factors, (Nokes,1996:33). The social issues such as gender inequality and lack of access to health and treatment programs by people are other factors which which are seen to contribute to the transmission of HIV.


Brody S, (1994), heterosexual transmission and HIV.N Engl J, 331-1718 Desjarlais, D. C, (1995), harm reduction:a framework of incorporating science into drug policy, Am j public health, 85:10-12 Fernandez, F & Ruiz, P, (1998), psychiatric aspects of HIV/AIDS, Lipponcott Williams &Wilkins, U. S Halperin D, (1998), HIV,STDs, anal sex and AIDS prevention policy, Int J STD AIDS 294-298 James, C, (2007), the AIDS pandemic, Radcliffe publishing, ISBN: 1846191181, p8 Johanson, P, (2007), HIV and AIDS, The Rosen publishing group, U. S Karim, S S & Ramjee, G, (1998), anal sex and HIV transmission in women, Am J Pub health, 1265-6 Kelly, J.

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Padian N, (1986), female-male-transmission of AIDS, JAMA, 256-590 Singer, M, (1997), needle exchange and AIDS prevention: controversies, policies and research; 18:1-12 Schroud, B D, (1999), AIDS & HIV in perspective, Cambridge university, U. S Swedin, E. G, (2005), science in the contemporary world, ABC-CLIO, ISBN: 1851095241. Voeller, B, (1991), AIDS and heterosexual anal intercourse, Arch sex behavior, 20:233-276 http://www. bmhcc. org/health/library/hivi4616. asp , retrieved on 25 Apr 2008 http://www. journaids. org/myths. php, retrieved on 5 May 2008

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