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World AIDS Day 2014: The UK HIV Myths & Facts #HIVFACT

I’ve worked with many HIV charities before including Terrence Higgins and the Manchester LGF as well as kickstarting a campaign within The Body Shop a few years back.

I remain HIV negative through proper condom use, regular testing and being aware of the dangers around me. It’s really not that difficult yet we’re on the cusp of yet another HIV epidemic because people think it went away in the 80’s.

Use World AIDS Day 2014 to arm yourself with the facts to staying safe during sex right here in the UK because HIV can happen to YOU… yes, you; sat there thinking it couldn’t ever affect you; because it just might.

Below are my top HIV facts and myths. If you have any facts or myths of your own, please tweet using the hashtags #HIVMYTH or #HIVFACT and please share this article with as many people as you can.

HIV MYTHS

  • HIV only affects gay men
    • 48% of people living with HIV in the UK are heterosexual vs. 44% homosexual
  • It only affects old people from the 80’s
    • There has been a huge spike in the number of 16-25 year olds contracting the disease due to ignorance, lack of proper sexual health information (it’s not always about babies) and an attitude of ‘this doesn’t affect me’. It does, it can and it just might.
  • “I’m a straight woman on birth control anyway, I have the CLAP once from a holiday in Ibiza but as if I’d ever be with anyone who’d give me HIV”
    • Birth control will only prevent pregnancy, it won’t protect you from STDs incl. HIV.
    • You just don’t know who has HIV, particularly in its early stages when it’s the most contagious.
  • He/she looks clean, there’s no way they’d have anything
    • In London alone, as many as 1 in 11 gay men have the virus. Would you play roulette with an 11 round gun?
  • “The UK? I don’t think so, it’s only in Africa and that’s like, way over there *points*”
    • 2.8% of every 1,000 people tested in the UK have HIV.
  • “Bitch, please! People can live FINE with HIV these days, what’s your issue?”
    • People are living longer with HIV medication and care; the side effects and allow me to introduce you to:
    • Lipodystrophy–A problem in the way your body produces, uses, and stores fat. (Also called “fat redistribution”). These changes can include losing fat in the face and extremities, and gaining fat in the abdomen and back of the neck.
    • Lipid abnormalities–Increases in cholesterol or triglycerides. Like with insulin resistance, lab tests (cholesterol and triglycerides) are the best indicators of lipid abnormalities.
    • Decrease in bone density–Can be a significant issue, especially for older adults with HIV. This can lead to an increase risk of injury and fractures.
    • Lactic acidosis–A buildup of lactate, a cellular waste product, in the body. This can cause problems ranging from muscle aches to liver failure. Alert your health care provider immediately.
    • Ostracism – Being seen as a leper by others; HIV affecting your relationships, self-esteem and self-worth. The psychological trauma many people experience with HIV would shock you to your very core. Is it worth not using a condom “just this once”?

HIV FACTS

  • 25% of people newly diagnosed with HIV were women (2013)
  • 42% of the newly diagnosed were heterosexual (2013)
  • Only 2% were through injected drug use
  • 54% were white, 21% black African, 5% asian and 3% black Caribbean
  • 49% of these new diagnosis were in London (Manchester also ranked high)
  • Over 95% of people living with HIV in the UK will have acquired it through sex without a condom
  • Regular HIV testing and proper condom use will prevent HIV through sexual contact
  • HIVis contracted through:
    • Blood
    • Semen
    • Breast Milk
    • Contaminated Needles / Injected Drug Use
    • Vaginal Fluids
    • Rectal Fluids
  • You cannot contract HIV through:
    • Kissing
    • Hugging
    • Toilet Seats
    • Hand Holding
    • Listening to Coldplay songs (although the research is still out on that one)

Sources: http://www.nat.org.uk/HIV-Facts/Statistics/Latest-UK-statistics/People-with-HIV-in-UK.aspx and http://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/hiv-aids-101/how-you-get-hiv-aids/

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