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Ten Myths About HIV/AIDS


The spread of HIV and AIDS has affected millions of people worldwide; According to the "2006 AIDS Epidemic Update", published by the UNAIDS/World Health Organization, there were an estimated 39.5 million people around the world living with HIV, with 4.3 million new HIV infections and 2.9 million deaths from AIDS-related illnesses in 2006. In some regions, there are indications that HIV infection rates have risen by over 50% since 2004.] In the wake of this pandemic, a number of misconceptions have arisen surrounding the disease. Below is a list and explanation of some common misconceptions and their rebuttals.

Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART) in many cases allows the stabilization of the patient's symptoms, partial recovery of CD4+ T-cell levels, and reduction in viremia to low or near-undetectable levels. Disease-specific drugs can also alleviate symptoms of AIDS and even cure specific AIDS-defining conditions in some cases. Medical treatment can reduce HIV infection in many cases to a survivable chronic condition, analogous to diabetes. However, these advances do not constitute a cure, since current treatment regimens cannot eradicate latent HIV from the body.

High levels of HIV-1 often HAART-resistant) develop if treatment is stopped, if compliance with treatment is inconsistent, or if the virus spontaneously develops resistance to an individual's regimen. Antiretroviral treatment known as post-exposure prophylaxis reduces the chance of acquiring an HIV infection when administered within 72 hours of exposure to HIV. These problems mean that while HIV-positive people with low viremia are less likely to infect others, the chance of transmission always exists. In addition, people on HAART may still become sick.