9 Myths About Women and HIV
Myths are incredibly dubious things. They serve only to spread misinformation and lead you astray from the facts. When it comes to women and HIV, a myth can be a very dangerous thing. Here are nine myths about women and HIV and the truths that we should be spreading instead.
MYTH: A woman can tell if a man is HIV-positive.
It’s very unlikely that you would be able to tell if a man is HIV-positive. It can take years for any symptoms to show up and even those symptoms might not immediately call to mind HIV. Not having sex and using safer sex methods are the only way to fight transmission.
MYTH: If a woman is HIV-positive and has a baby, the baby will be HIV-positive as well.
If you are aware of your status early in your pregnancy and are treated, there is a less than two percent chance that your baby will be born HIV Positive. In the US, that risk goes up about 25 percent without treatment. If you’re pregnant – get tested.
MYTH: A woman cannot transmit HIV to a man.
It certainly is harder, but it is definitely possible. During intercourse, HIV can enter a man’s body through the tip of his penis or through any cuts, sores, or other openings. The chances of transmission are even higher if the woman is undiagnosed and carrying a high viral load and if a man has an untreated sexually transmitted infection.
MYTH: If a woman contracts HIV, all of her friends and family will reject her.
It is possible that some family and friends may have difficulty handling this information. But the people worth having in your life will understand, even if it takes them a little while. Not sharing your status can be an incredible burden to carry. Just know that there will be people who love and support you, even if that means building a new circle of “family” and friends.
MYTH: If a woman contracts HIV, everyone will blame her.
Ignorance is one of the most dangerous issues when it comes to HIV/AIDS. Some people may blame you for contracting HIV. But that’s about them, not you. No one deserves to contract HIV. If someone blames a woman for not protecting herself, he or she should consider first how he or she would feel if the situation were reversed.
MYTH: A woman married to or in an otherwise monogamous relationship with a man are not at risk for HIV.
Presumed monogamy is not the same as actual monogamy. There are men who have sex with other people while in a committed “monogamous” relationship with a woman. This can put a woman at a dramatically increased risk for HIV as she is presuming safer sex practices are not necessary.
MYTH: Lesbians are not at risk for HIV
Lesbians and women who have sex with women can still contract HIV, as well as other sexually transmitted infections. The risk is lower but transmission is possible. So safer sex practices should still ALWAYS be employed.
MYTH: Older women and seniors are not at risk for HIV.
There are many older women and seniors who are sexually active and there certainly are some who use injection drugs. They may be less likely to use condoms because of a lack of knowledge or understanding, which can ultimately put them at a higher risk then they might be otherwise.
MYTH: If a woman gets HIV, she will never be able to be in a relationship or have sex.
Being HIV Positive can present additional challenges when it comes to relationships and sex. But it is by no means the end to all things romantic or intimate. The key is being honest and communicative, which is true for any relationship. You know you’ve found the right person when you find the person who understands and accepts you with grace and kindness, including your status.