When Hollywood legend Rock Hudson died of AIDS in the 1980s, the world was gripped with fear by this unknown disease. A few years later, then world-famous NBA player Magic Johnson quit basketball at the height of his career. His admission of being HIV-positive did not help as he said he contracted HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), a precursor to AIDS, by sleeping with thousands of women. It brought about conflicting information about HIV.
More than thirty years on, HIV remains a threat and is on the rise again. The local government of Quezon City has been the trailblazer in campaigning against the rising threat of HIV. The city mobilized a city-wide campaign to promote HIV testing, prevention, treatment and control and held a summit on HIV for the second time.
The HIV Summit was held last December 6, 2017 at Novotel Manila with theme “Partnerships and Synergies: The Service Delivery Network (SDN) for People Living with HIV in Quezon City.” The summit shed light on the city’s response and journey toward an accessible, interconnected care, treatment and support services available today for PLHIVs.
Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista gave the keynote message, stating, “For years, we’ve seen how HIV/AIDS has caused public fear, pain and suffering. This drove us to continuously fight against the epidemic. We are further completing our service delivery network, collaborating with other programs and institutions, innovating, and filling the gaps in response.”
Mayor Herbert also cited the report of the Department of Health (DOH) the lot of people diagnosed with HIV or human immunodeficiency virus has now reached 46,985. Out of this number, almost half are from the National Capital Region (NCR), and 4,412 come from Quezon City.
In the fight against HIV/AIDS, Quezon City’s SDN boasts the establishment of outreach services, HIV/AIDS support organizations and most importantly facilities that specializes on HIV testing and treatment. It is now on its 4th year.
The summit also saw the launch of the coffee table book “From Vision to Transformation: The story of HIV response in Quezon City” and the turnover of reference materials on HIV, AIDS and STI for high school students. The Philippines recorded the highest number of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases in June.
HIV is a virus that destroys the human body’s natural defense against diseases or infection, causing the immune system to weaken and not function properly. No human being, by age or by sex, is immune to HIV infection. Healthy people can acquire the virus and if not treated properly, it could lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which is the final stage of HIV.
During the press conference that followed the summit, experts reiterated that having HIV is not a crime and the many myths and misconceptions about HIV and how you get one should be debunked. With its rising threat, now is the time to get the facts and learn how (and how not) HIV is passed on. Sourced from www.avert.org (2017):
HIV can only be passed on from person to person if infected body fluids (such as blood, semen, vaginal or anal secretions and breast milk) get into your bloodstream through unprotected sex;
HIV can only be passed on from an infected mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding;
HIV can only be passed on from injecting drugs with a needle that has infected blood in it and from infected blood donations or organ transplants.
You cannot get HIV:
You can only get HIV from someone who is already infected with HIV;
You won’t get HIV from touching someone who has HIV or hugging them or shaking their hand because HIV can’t survive outside of the body;
There is no HIV in an infected person’s sweat, tears, urine or faeces;
Mutual masturbation, fingering and hand-jobs are all safe from HIV. However, if you use sex toys make sure you use a new condom on them when switching between partners;
When an insect (such as a mosquito) bites you it sucks your blood – it does not inject the blood of the last person it bit so you cannot get HIV from insects.;
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. You cannot get HIV from animals because the infection can only be passed on between humans;
HIV cannot survive in the air so you cannot get HIV from Air. Coughing, sneezing or spitting cannot transmit HIV;
You cannot get HIV from new or sterilised needles since new needles haven’t been in the body of an infected person. If used needles are cleaned and sterilised properly they can’t transmit HIV either;
HIV can’t survive in water so you cannot get HIV from swimming pools, baths, shower areas, washing clothes or from drinking water;
Cooking utensils, toilet seats, tables, door handles, cutlery, and sharing towels with HIV positives cannot give you HIV because HIV doesn’t survive on surfaces;
Do you fear that you can get HIV from musical instruments used by an HIV infected person? Even if that instrument can only be play by using your mouth, it cannot give you HIV because HIV can’t survive on musical instruments;
Condoms are used for protection. If you fear that you can get HIV from used condoms, remember that HIV can only survive for a really short amount of time outside of the body. Even if the condom had sperm from an HIV-positive person in it, the HIV would be dead;
There is a wide fear that you can get HIV from kissing. The truth is there is only such a small amount of HIV in the saliva of a person living with HIV. So, the infection can’t be passed on from kissing;
Time and again, you should take note that you cannot get HIV from oral sex. The risk is very small unless you or your partner have large open sores on the genital area or bleeding gums/sores in your mouth. Moreover, there is only a slightly increased risk if a woman being given oral sex is HIV positive and is menstruating. However, you can always use a dental dam to eliminate these risks;
Can you get HIV from tattoos and piercings if the needle used by the professional has been used in the body of an HIV-infected person? Basically no, since the needle that they will be using will be sterilized and the fact is for every job done, most practitioners are required to use new needles for each new client.
Learning these facts from myths can help our fight against HIV and help minimize its rising threat.