Living with HIV has never been easy. It’s a kick in the teeth. It’s not only about facing the fear of being carried to and from the hospital in a wheelchair or being a frail-looking figure clutching a walking stick. It’s also about societal rejection, the worry of typing “I am positive” in unmistakable keystrokes and the angst of being ostracized.
The coalescence between a lack of knowledge and unfounded fear is a lethal cocktail that can wreck the mental health of people living with HIV/AIDS. Thus, Shopee conducted a seminar in collaboration with Yayasan Aids Indonesia to raise social awareness and to support people living with HIV/AIDS.
In honour of World AIDS Vaccine Day, I’d take time to round up common myths (tho there are many more!) about people living with HIV/AIDS that remain rife. Let’s shine a light on them!
1. “You are going to die. Real soon.”
This used to be true. When HIV/AIDS was first discovered in the 1980s and early 1990s, little was known about how to treat people living with HIV/AIDS. But it is hardly the scourge it once was, thanks to the medical advancement!
We now have more and more HIV/AIDS treatments, and if they stick to their treatment plan, it can allow them to live a long and happy life.
2. “Mama said I can’t share my food utensils with you”
There has never been a documented case of a person contracting HIV from sharing food utensils with people living with HIV/AIDS. It can only be transmitted through a couple of ways such as unprotected sex and sharing injection equipment.
Coming into contact with transmission fluid (blood, semen, pre-cum, vaginal fluids, and breastmilk) can cause HIV transmission but you won’t get HIV from saliva, urine, and sweat.
3. “I can’t breathe the same air with you”
Don’t be silly! HIV/AIDS is not The White Walkers coming from the Far North of Westeros who can turn you into a wight (it never was). You can’t get HIV from touching, kissing, hugging or breathing the same air with people living with HIV. If it could, everyone would already have it, no?
4. “I am straight. No way I can get HIV!”
Oh, let’s get this straight then. HIV/AIDS doesn’t discriminate. No matter what your sexual orientation is, no matter how you look, where you live or what you do for a living, you can get infected by HIV/AIDS, even when you don’t think you are at risk.
5. “HIV = Promiscuity. RAWR!”
This is probably one of the most common myths I’ve ever heard. HIV is commonly stigmatized as promiscuous behaviour. Having HIV/AIDS doesn’t mean that you are promiscuous. HIV/AIDS can happen to anyone, even a newborn and someone who had never had sex before.
For you, people living with HIV/AIDS: If you just found out you’re positive, take a deep breath. I know it may leave you reeling and forlorn when you have had the diagnosis. I know you are worried about telling people you’re positive and you are scared to death about how your new chapter of life will become.
But, it’s not the end of your journey. Life doesn’t stop when you’re diagnosed with HIV positive. There’s always a ray of hope and silver lining to the dark cloud, there’s still a lot of things to look forward to.
If you are keen to spread positivity around you, come join our enthusiastic team!