Join us in ending HIV stigma
Discover the real stories of people living with HIV
Learn the real facts about HIV today
HIV only affects gay men.
In Australia, heterosexual sex makes up approximately 20% of all transmissions of HIV. 54% of all people living with HIV globally are female.
Even in countries with healthcare systems similar to ours like the United Kingdom, women make up 29% of new diagnoses, and approximately 45% of all transmissions are a result of heterosexual sex.
HIV always leads to AIDS.
HIV and AIDS are different. AIDS is prevented by HIV treatment. Which means, it’s incredibly rare for someone to develop AIDS in Australia, because treatment is available and accessible to everyone.
Where as HIV is the virus, AIDS is a syndrome of immune system deficiency that is the result of HIV attacking the immune system over time, and is associated with weakened immune response and opportunistic infections and cancers.
You can’t have healthy HIV negative children if either or both parents are HIV positive.
In Australia, the vast majority of HIV positive parents have healthy pregnancies and give birth to healthy HIV negative babies, even if the mother, or father, or both are living with HIV.
With the use of the current effective HIV treatments, mother to child transmission of HIV (also known as vertical transmission) is extremely rare in Australia.
If you are living with HIV, there are not many jobs or professions that you can work in.
In Australia, for someone living with HIV, and on effective treatment, there are no professions that they can’t work in, other than the military. They could be a teacher, lawyer, chef, surgeon, barista, accountant, dentist, almost anything.
Like any other manageable illness, it’s just a part of life and doesn’t define life.
I can get HIV by being around people who are HIV-positive.
HIV is quite difficult to transmit. You can’t get HIV by breathing the same air, touching a toilet seat or door handle, drinking from a water fountain, hugging, kissing, or shaking hands, sharing eating utensils, or by using exercise equipment at a gym.
HIV can come into the body through blood, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids, and breast milk.
Mosquitoes spread HIV.
As the HIV virus is passed through blood, you may think that it can be transmitted by biting or bloodsucking insects.
This isn’t true because when bugs bite, they don’t inject the blood of the person or animal they bit before you.
If I am using birth control, I cannot get HIV.
HIV can be spread during any condomless sex. Birth control only protect against unwanted pregnancy, not sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like HIV.
The only birth control method that prevents pregnancy and significantly reduces the potential of getting HIV is a condom.
What is stigma?
HIV stigma is a complex issue that manifests itself in many ways. It can stem from fear combined with a lack of knowledge or understanding of HIV.
Stigma is any act that treats people living with HIV (PLHIV) as less than or different because of their HIV positive status. Stigma isn’t just present in interpersonal relationships, it occurs frequently and is often most impactful when observed in healthcare settings, or in the workplace.
Stigma doesn’t just affect PLHIV, it can also be directed to and impact their partners, friends, families, and the broader community.
The stigma of HIV impacts the everyone’s willingness to engage in testing, making it harder to ensure that everyone living with HIV in Australia can be diagnosed and take control of their health and protect the community from further transmissions.
Types of stigma?
HIV stigma affects people living with HIV in more ways than one.
HIV stigma can be perceived based on past and current experiences, such as people using terms like ‘clean only’ reinforcing the misheld view that PLHIV are ‘dirty’ in some way. It can also be experienced where someone is treated differently, such as a healthcare worker using excessive precautions for a simple procedure.
These perceptions of HIV stigma can then lead to stigma being anticipated, meaning it is expected to occur, whether it is grounded in truth or not.
At its worse, HIV stigma can become internalised, whereby a person might start to believe some of these stigmatising messages about themselves. This often leads to increased risk of anxiety, depression, social isolation and suicidality.
What can I do?
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