Today is World AIDS day, the day to spread awareness to stop the prejudice and also to stop the spread of the infection.
Prejudice against HIV Positive people are rooted in the same things as other prejudices – fear, which stems from lack of knowledge. HIV Positive people are often ostracised from communities and their social circles for various reasons, among them the fear of the uninformed of somehow contracting the disease.
So let’s inform the uninformed and dispel the fear…
How do you get HIV?
HIV isn’t hiding behind a blind corner ready to pounce and infect you. No, HIV infection only occurs when HIV infected fluid somehow gets into your blood.
Blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk are all good carriers of the virus. If any of these infected fluids enter your body (comes into contact with your blood), through the mouth, vagina, tip of the penis, anus or any breaks in the skin, HIV can be transmitted.
Any form of sex that includes contact with semen (including the clear pre-cum), vaginal secretions and blood, can potentially transmit the virus, i.e. vaginal, anal and even oral sex (ulcers, lacerations, bleeding gums, etc.).
It is also possible to transmit HIV through sharing infected needles when doing drugs, or DIY tattoos and body piercings, accidental needle pricks, blood transfusions, and from a mother to a child during pregnancy, labour and also breast feeding.
HIV Positive people often don’t look sick, and the vast majority of those carrying the virus, are unaware that they do. Therefore, asking a stranger before sex whether or not they are HIV Positive does not constitute safer sex – protecting yourself with a condom however, does.
How you won’t get HIV
Saliva, sweat, tears, feces and urine are not known to cause HIV infections, mainly because HIV in these substances do not appear in concentrations large enough to be harmful. You therefore are unlikely to get infected by casual contact with these bodily secretions.
Mutual masturbation using hands only, is a pretty safe form of sex, provided both partners have healthy, unbroken skin with no open wounds or fresh cuts and sores. Remember, semen and vaginal fluids transmit the disease, but it has to enter your body, which it can’t do through healthy skin.
You also can’t get HIV through kissing, hugging (important, because HIV Positive people need hugs as much as the rest of us), shaking hands, massage, insect bites, sharing showers and toilets, or living in the same house with an HIV Positive person.
If you always use a condom during the entire course of vaginal, anal or oral sex, and avoid general high risk activities, it will greatly reduce your risk of getting HIV, and many other sexually transmitted diseases to boot.
Know the facts and pass that on
World AIDS Day is but 1 global opportunity to make a difference. You can help to slow or, who knows in the near future, even stop the spread of HIV, by knowing the facts, implementing them in your own life to keep yourself safe, and sharing that knowledge with those around you.