Newspaper article News Sentinel

MARTHA BUCHANAN; GUEST COLUMNIST; Knowing HIV/AIDS Facts Combats Dangerous Misinformation

Newspaper article News Sentinel

MARTHA BUCHANAN; GUEST COLUMNIST; Knowing HIV/AIDS Facts Combats Dangerous Misinformation

Article excerpt

Thirty years after the discovery of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus as the cause of AIDS, science and research have made great strides in understanding how the virus is spread and in developing medications to control and treat the disease.

HIV infection was once a virtual death sentence. Now those who are HIV positive and get treatment may never progress to having AIDS, and people are living much longer with HIV.

In spite of all the scientific research, HIV/AIDS is still surrounded by myths and misinformation.

Being ignorant or misinformed about HIV/ AIDS is dangerous - the disease crosses all gender, cultural, racial and lifestyle barriers.

More than 1,000 Tennesseans are diagnosed with HIV each year. As a physician and public health professional, I advise each of you to get tested and know your HIV status. I also want to dispel some widely held misconceptions.

Myth: HIV can be cured.

Fact: There is no cure for HIV at this time.

Myth: HIV isn't a big deal anymore - just take a pill once a day and everything's fine.

Fact: Although an HIV diagnosis is no longer an automatic death sentence, it continues to be a "big deal," and people still die from HIV infection. Preventing HIV infection is much better than having to treat it. Living with HIV can be challenging, and HIV medications can have serious side effects and cause other health problems.

Myth: If my sexual partner had HIV, I'd be able to tell.

Fact: It can take 10 years for symptoms of HIV to show up. The virus is present in the person and is not causing disease - but it

still can be spread.

The only way to tell if a person is infected with HIV is to get tested.

Myth: HIV is the same as AIDS.

Fact: HIV is the virus that leads to AIDS. The virus attacks a person's immune system. A person is said to have AIDS when their immune system is unable to fight off disease: when they become ill. Having HIV does not mean you have AIDS.

Myth: The U.S. government produced AIDS to reduce the size of certain groups of people.

Fact: The government did not make this disease. Research suggests that AIDS appears to have started in Africa. The virus was most likely spread through human contact with blood during hunting and butchering monkeys. Animal viruses can change and develop the ability to make humans sick. H1N1 and avian influenza also are examples of animal viruses infecting people.

Myth: HIV and AIDS

affect only gay men and drug users.

Fact: HIV and AIDS can infect anyone regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or lifestyle. …

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