Myths v. Facts
Make sure that you know the facts about HIV. That way, you can help yourself and those around you. There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings when it comes to HIV and how it is spread.
Educate yourself – and the women you serve – about the realities.
Getting the right information is a very important part of understanding HIV. It will help to stop the virus from spreading. The myths are dangerous. They lead to prejudice and stigma. They make people both sicker and more alone.
Myths do not help. Facts do.
FACT – HIV survives ONLY in these bodily fluids:
- vaginal fluids
- breast milk
- menstrual fluids
- rectal fluids (anal fluids)
MYTH – It is NOT POSSIBLE to get HIV these ways:
- sharing forks, knives, spoons, pots, pans, plates and cups
- using shared towels and blankets
- hugs, embraces, heavy petting, kissing (including kisses using the tongue)
- sneezes, coughs, spit
- being bitten or scratched
- touching one another
- touching the same things
- sharing public toilet seats
- masturbation and mutual masturbation (masturbating each other)
- through urine or sweat
- standing on a used needle
“You go to the hospital, you go to your doctor, you go to wherever you go and you disclose, and some people say ‘Oh my God, you’re one of those people who infects everybody.”1
FACT – Any woman can contract HIV regardless of:
- marital status
- who she has sex with
- how many sexual partners she has
- country of origin
- mental health
- financial status
- education level
- People with HIV can’t work
- Someone can tell if another person is HIV positive – especially a loved one
- Women make up a very small percent of the people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS every year
- Usually, people who are infected become seriously ill within a couple of years
- A pregnant HIV-positive woman can’t do anything to stop the virus from spreading to the fetus and – after labour – her newborn
- HIV-positive mothers can breastfeed infants*
- Two HIV-positive people can’t infect each other
- People over 50 don’t get HIV
- Women can’t give men HIV
- HIV and AIDS are the same thing
- Prescription drugs are used only after a person feels sick because of HIV
- There is a cure for HIV
- You don’t know anyone with HIV
* Doctors in Canada advise HIV-positive moms not to breastfeed because a supply of safe drinking water is usually available to mix formula. This way, risk of transmission is reduced to less than 2%
You can get information about these and other myths from local AIDS service organizations, and by contacting us at Shared Health Exchange.
Please contact us! We’re here to support you and your clients.
Women and HIV/AIDS Initiative at ACT
Phone: 416-340-8484x. 453 or 276
More from Shared Health Exchange
- ABOUT US: ACT (AIDS Committee of Toronto)
- ABOUT US: Women’s HIV/AIDS Initiative (WHAI) and Shared Health Exchange (SHE)
- ESSENTIALS: HIV Basics
- ESSENTIALS: Stigmas
1ASO Worker—Interview 22, HIV Non-Disclosure and the Criminal Law: Establishing Policy Options for Ontario, Eric Mykhalovskiy, Glenn Betteridge and David McLay, August 2010
* Doctors in Canada advise HIV-positive moms not to breastfeed because a supply of safe drinking water is usually available to mix formula. This way, risk of transmission is reduced by 25%.