Many people think that HIV is so rare that no one actually has it. In reality, there is a chance that you might actually know someone or become introduced to someone who is infected with the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 1.1 million people in the United States who are currently living with HIV. Keep in mind that this is about 447 people for every 100,000 people. While you are more likely to have sexual encounters with people who have other STDs, there is still a chance that you could have relations with someone who has HIV.
The truth is that, yes, it is possible for people to live with HIV nowadays. This is mostly due to the fact that there has been so much research done on HIV now in comparison to when this virus first was considered a threat in the 1980's. That being said, it is important to keep in mind that HIV is absolutely a big deal. The drugs that someone with HIV will require to manage the virus are not only expensive, but they cause unpleasant side effects, such as frequent nausea and vomiting. You are also going to be at a greater risk for neurological disorders and certain types of cancer. While HIV no longer needs to be a death sentence, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't take the STD seriously.
A common myth is that only gay men can become diagnosed with HIV. This couldn't be any further from the truth. While statistics have shown that gay men have been more likely to become diagnosed with HIV in the past, a lot of this is believed to be because gay men are at an increased risk of sharing needles. Women make up about 25% of all HIV sufferers. African American women account for more than 60% of women who become diagnosed with HIV, while Caucasian women only make up about 16.8%. Anyone who has unprotected sex with multiple partners and shares needles is at risk of contracting HIV.
A lot of people think that you do not need to tell someone who you have sexual relations with or share needles with that you have HIV. Keep in mind that you have both a moral and legal obligation to tell someone that have the virus. Every state has laws that can be used to prosecute someone who has knowingly withheld their HIV status from a sexual partner. Find a list of state statutes in regards to the criminality of not disclosing that you have HIV or AIDS to someone at Lambda Legal.
While you are going to need to be more cautious in the future when you are involved in a relationship that could lead to sexual relations, it is important to keep in mind that HIV does not mean that your dating life is over. There are many dating websites for people who have HIV. If you have been infected by the virus, you are not alone. Dating someone who also has HIV may be ideal for you. Keep in mind that there are also plenty of people without HIV who end up in long-term relationships or marriages with someone who does have the virus.
These are just a few of the many myths surrounding HIV. Use caution any time that you have sexual relations with someone and avoid sharing needles with anyone else in order to prevent yourself from contracting HIV.