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Truth and Myths about HIV transmission

author: charita | date: 11. mája 2020 | category: Uganda

Read an insight into HIV issue by Barbora Šilhárová, a doctor in John Paul II Hospital and a coordinator in the centre HIA, where Slovaks support about 150 Ugandan children. Many of them are HIV positive. With our assistance, Barbora decided to disprove various myths, in which many people still believe. 

I am a mother of an HIV positive child, and I have been working with patients for more than eight years. Some people are surprised I have not been infected yet with the virus even though I don’t wear gloves, I hug children and caress them, I laugh and cry with them, and when they bleed, we treat them. That’s why discrimination of HIV positive children is a great struggle for me.

Many people who visit our project or shoot a movie about our work are terrified even to touch the children because their general practitioner told them it is also transmittable through sweat and saliva. Without further ado, let’s take a look at a few facts and myths about HIV transmission. 

HIV is transmitted by:

  • Unprotected sexual intercourse
  • Transmission from mother to child during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding
  • Infected blood or organs during transfusion or transplantation
  • Sharp objects infected by fresh blood of an HIV positive person – hypodermic needle, razor blade

I’d like to add to these facts that if an HIV positive person has a diligent approach to treatment adherence, it is sufficient to curb the virus to such extent that even by activities mentioned above is the chance of transmission marginal

HIV is not transmitted by:

  • caressing, hugging
  • Eating from one plate or drinking from one glass and bottle
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Dirty and sweaty hands
  • Getting stung by an insect while being in a room with an HIV positive person
  • Swimming in water with HIV positive people
  • A child can play with toys, even if an HIV positive child has licked them
  • Urine, faeces do not transmit HIV
  • HIV outside the host survives only for a short time and dies very quickly

During the years of this beautiful work with HIV positive children, my personal experience would be that they are so hungry for love and affection, that a hug or caress could sometimes help them even more than medicaments. Please, let´s not discriminate them, their lives are though already.