Myth:  "HIV is a death sentence." 

Fact:  In the 1970s and 80s, people with HIV had extremely limited treatment options, and often died quickly after they first got sick. Since then, advances in medical treatment have made it possible to live long and well with HIV. Research into still better treatment is ongoing.


Myth:  "HIV only affects gay men or drug users."

Fact:  HIV is an equal opportunity virus. Newborn babies, women, seniors, teens and people of all races or nationalities can have HIV. The prevalence of the virus in different groups varies (as it does for other diseases), but it can affect anyone. Of HIV positive people worldwide, slightly more than half are women.


Myth:  "HIV can be cured."

Fact:  Beliefs that HIV can be cured – through specific sex acts or by new medicines – are unfounded. There is no cure for HIV. Antiretroviral therapy can reduce the presence of the virus in the body, but not eliminate it.


Myth: "HIV can be spread through casual contact, through kissing or by mosquitos."

Fact:  Contact with the blood, semen, vaginal fluid or breast milk of someone with HIV is necessary to get the virus. HIV is not airborne and cannot be caught by touching skin, sweat or saliva. This means that holding hands, sharing drinking glasses and other casual contact can’t spread HIV. Open-mouthed kissing is likewise extremely low risk – open sores or blood would need to be present for transmission.


Myth: "HIV can't be spread if you're taking antiretroviral medicine, or if you use birth control."

Fact:  Safer sex and, if you inject drugs, clean works are necessary to keep from spreading HIV. Antiretroviral therapy will control HIV symptoms and progression, but it won’t prevent infection by itself.

Birth control methods like the pill, sponges, diaphragms and spermicides are designed to prevent pregnancy, not infection. None of these methods protect against HIV or other STDs.