17 January 2017

HIV-mythology and its exposure

Irina Reznik, Mednovosti

There are already officially a million HIV-infected people in our country (despite the fact that most are not checked). At the same time, false ideas about the virus itself and the consequences of infection continue to breed myths and make the lives of infected people unbearable. HIV mythology is very diverse and reflects all the moods in society - from panic fear of infection to a frivolous attitude towards it. HIV dissidents also contribute, preaching that it is not the virus that destroys the immune system, but drugs against it. Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the Federal Scientific and Methodological Center for the Prevention and Control of AIDS at the Central Research Institute of Epidemiology of Rospotrebnadzor, shared his opinion about these myths with Mednovosti.

Just don't panic

HIV is transmitted through household contacts, including through the toilet seat

– No, this virus is not transmitted in everyday life. So far, no such case has been recorded, and even suspicions of this have never arisen. In order to infect a person, HIV must get into the deep environment of the body. And it is unlikely that this will happen when visiting the toilet.

HIV can be contracted by kissing or oral sex

– The virus is not transmitted through saliva when kissing. No such cases have been recorded either. But with oral sex, there were infections, although this happens much less often than with other types of sex.

A condom does not protect against the penetration of the virus

– This is not true, a condom reliably protects against infection, and this has been repeatedly proven. The condom does not pass liquid, and without this, by itself, the virus does not penetrate through any pores in the rubber. The only problem is that the condom may break. To prevent this from happening, it is necessary to check the shelf life and integrity of the package and not open it with sharp objects, so as not to damage the condom. It is important that the condom is worn before contact with the partner's body and before the end of contact.

An HIV-infected child should not attend kindergarten – it is dangerous for other children

– Children can really fight, bite each other. But in such situations, HIV is not transmitted, even if you come into contact with open wounds. The fact is that with wounds, HIV is always washed out with blood, which flows out, not in. Infection usually occurs during injections, when infected material gets deep inside. But with open wounds, cuts, this is not observed.

A child from an HIV-positive mother will also be HIV-positive

– The risk of having an HIV-infected child is less than 50%, and this is if no measures are taken. And with modern methods of preventing transmission of infection to the fetus from the mother, this probability is approaching zero.

HIV-infected people cannot create families and have children

– And they can, and they do it. Of course, when you get married or get married, it's better to know whether your partner is infected or not, and to get tested yourself. Not only condoms protect against infection in such a marriage, but also antiretroviral therapy, which will be taken by an HIV-infected partner. But the most reliable, if both are combined.

In a number of countries, it is recommended that an uninfected spouse also take antiretroviral drugs prophylactically. This is especially important when planning a pregnancy. There is a whole range of measures aimed at ensuring that the child is not born infected. If a woman has been infected, or was infected by her husband, then she should take antiretroviral drugs, monitor with the help of tests whether the appointment helps.

Mosquitoes carry HIV

– This question has been asked for 30 years, but there has not been a single such case in these 30 years.

HIV is a death sentence, you can die at any time from the simplest disease

– Today, such methods of treatment are available to us that allow us to live to a very old age and die from a common disease. But, of course, it is necessary to take antiretroviral drugs all the time.

Pernicious carelessness

HIV is not terrible today, it can be cured

– HIV cannot be cured yet, it can only be kept in check. But constantly taking medications and taking care not to infect anyone (because if you infect, you can go to prison) is still not the easiest life.

HIV tests often show an incorrect positive result

– During the initial examination, indeed, mistakes happen quite often.

Their probability is about 1 in 100, and if you study 100 million people, you already get a million errors. But all these primary results are necessarily rechecked by more accurate analyses, which already give, undoubtedly, the correct answer.

HIV is the lot of risk groups. I am not a drug addict and therefore will never get infected with HIV

– Now almost everyone is at risk. It is enough to have one sexual partner to already be at risk of infection. Unfortunately, there have been cases of infection in medical institutions again. While they are isolated, but if you do not fight HIV infection, the risk of such transmission will increase. The more HIV-infected people there are, the greater the risk of infection, including in hospitals

Sex between HIV-infected people is safe

– This is a difficult question. With unprotected sex, you can also get infected not only with HIV infection. We have observed outbreaks of syphilis and hepatitis C infection among people living with HIV. As for the HIV infection itself, there is a possibility of contracting different variants of the virus. However, this does not significantly affect the course of the disease and its prognosis. The fact is that one strain always prevails over the other and becomes decisive.

Today we can say that there are two large groups of HIV – the first and the second type. HIV infection of the second type proceeds more slowly, but it occurs mainly in Portuguese-speaking countries. In other countries, this type is very rare.

Drug therapy is not required at the beginning of the disease

– This is true, but still, the sooner you start taking medications, the better the prognosis. Now it is recommended to start treatment as soon as HIV infection is detected. But since this usually happens in healthy people, many of them do not really want to start treatment. This is such a psychological moment: as soon as you started taking medications, you no longer seem healthy to yourself. Therefore, this issue is always solved individually, taking into account the opinions of doctors and the patient, the analysis indicators. But if a person has indications for treatment, it is clear that immunity has already been violated, and there is no alternative, then it is necessary to start taking medications.


HIV itself is a big medical myth. And besides, HIV has nothing to do with AIDS

– Of course, you can say anything, say that the Earth is square, and even give some evidence. But in fact, all these arguments are based on false promises – data from the 80s of the last century are used, when we still did not know everything about HIV infection. Today there is no doubt that HIV infection exists and the immunodeficiency virus causes AIDS.

Initially, confusion arose due to the fact that a violation of immunity may have other reasons. But these are completely different immunodeficiencies. A violation of immunity in HIV infection, what is called AIDS, is a very specific unique phenomenon that does not occur in other conditions.

Many deaths are mistakenly attributed to AIDS and HIV infection

– The fact is that now there is no such thing as death from AIDS in our country. There can only be death from HIV infection or from some other causes. Death from AIDS is not used in our statistics at all, so there can be no mistakes here. As for HIV infection, there is no doubt about it. The difficulty is precisely in the interpretation of the concept of AIDS, since there is a lot of confusion between immunodeficiency in AIDS and other variants of immunodeficiency. And to avoid this confusion, the cause of death is indicated by HIV infection. If it wasn't there, then something else was the cause of death. 

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru  17.01.2017

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