World AIDS Day 2018: What is PrEP? 5 common myths, misconceptions around the globe

By: | Updated: December 1, 2018 6:09 PM

World AIDS Day is observed on the 1st of December every year in order to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection.

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World AIDS Day is observed on the 1st of December every year in order to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. Since 1988, December 1 is marked as a day to remember all those who have lost their lives under the impact of this deadly disease. It is marked by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as one of the eight official global public health campaigns. Government agencies, non-governmental organisation and people around the globe observe this day as a day to spread awareness against AIDS and how to prevent oneself from getting infected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

AIDS is one of the most important global health issues in the history of human existence and owing to the new-age antiretroviral treatment in many parts of the world, the epidemic has reportedly decreased in the recent times. AIDS is one such disease which destroys the human immune system that begins with being infected by HIV. HIV infected persons are often at the risk of developing other common infections such as tuberculosis, as well as other opportunistic infections. The late symptoms of this infection are referred to as AIDS, which is often also associated with severe weight loss.

Currently, there is no treatment that can fully cure an HIV infected person. However, recently, many individuals have taken to the consumption of Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP medicines to protect themselves from this deadly virus. As doctors suggest, PrEP has shown some signs in the reduction of the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk.

What is PrEP?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a type of medication suggested by doctors to people who do not have HIV but are at a risk of getting it. The PrEP pill consists of two medicines, tenofovir and emtricitabine, which are used in combination with other medicines. PrEP is generally combined with other HIV prevention tools like condoms and other methods to provide even greater protection than they already do. However, those who are under the medication of PrEP should also go for a follow-up health check once in every 3 months. Also, use of PrEP is not a licence to indulge in risky behaviour. One must consult medical professionals and doctors before using PrEP or any medicine.

Five misconceptions about HIV/AIDS around the globe:

1. HIV leads to death

With modern technology and treatment, HIV is no longer a death sentence and those affected can lead a near to normal life even after being encountered by this chronic illness. There are thousands of people in the world who are living with HIV and leading lives just like the rest. However, it is important for HIV affected individuals to be on constant treatment for them to lead a normal, long-term healthy life.

2. HIV can be transferred by kissing

This is a common concern among many individuals today. Most doctors around the globe have encountered such questions from their patients whose prime concern is whether HIV can be transferred from the affected person to the other through kissing or basic physical contact. It is highly unlikely for a person to get HIV by kissing an infected person as the virus does not spread from saliva. However, if the infected person has sore or bleeding gums, mouth ulcers kissing them would be risky but overall, HIV transmission through a kiss is rare.

3. HIV and AIDS are the same

It’s been years since doctors and scientists have gone out there and drawn a significant line between HIV and AIDS, even today people are under the impression that both are the same. It is not necessary for an HIV infected person to get AIDS and owing to the advancement in HIV treatment, most infected people will never have AIDS. An infected person who begins his treatment early can lead a normal life without AIDS even though he is an HIV patient.

4. You can tell by looking if someone has HIV

Most people believe that it is easy to differentiate between an HIV infected person and others. However, there is no definite way to tell just by merely looking at someone whether they have HIV or not. Those with HIV and on treatment will look exactly like those without it. Though some do show symptoms of HIV, it highly depends from person to person.

5. HIV is a gay disease

It is a common misconception that HIV cannot impact straight individuals and only occurs to those who are bisexual or gay. However, that is completely untrue. A straight individual can get infected by HIV if he undergoes sexual intercourse with a person who is already infected by the virus.

(Disclaimer: The article is based on general information available on public platforms, readers are advised to consult their doctor before going for any kind of preventive medicine/treatment.)

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