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HIV awareness is at an alarming low with one in five believing you can catch the virus from kissing somebody

Patrick Kelleher November 29, 2019
HIV

Stock image of men kissing via Pexels

Various organisations have put extensive work into education around HIV in recent years, but a new survey has shown that misinformation about the virus is rife.

The creators of home test INSTI conducted the research ahead of World AIDS Day next week. Shockingly, 40 per cent of those surveyed think there is a cure for HIV.

The survey also revealed that one in five people think that HIV/AIDS was a disease of the 1990s and is no longer an issue.

Alarmingly, 25 per cent of people don’t know that the virus is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and while 73 per cent learned about STIs at school, just eight per cent learned about HIV.

Survey suggests that HIV awareness is still extremely low.

Elsewhere, the research revealed that 16 per cent believe that HIV and AIDS are the same thing, while 27 per cent think HIV stands for “human infection virus”.

More than half of respondents believe that a baby will definitely contract HIV if its mother has it, and one in five believe you can catch the virus from kissing somebody.

By promoting and normalising safer sex, healthy relationships and getting tested, we can empower people to take charge of their own sexual health and wellbeing.

While HIV diagnoses are falling in the UK, the survey indicates that there is still significant cause for concern, as many people do not understand what HIV is, nor do they understand the importance of getting tested.

Louise Ball of INSTI said the decline in new diagnoses is “good news” – but said that the virus remains a “very real threat in 2019” and said there is “no room for complacency.”

Social stigma preventing people from looking after sexual health, says charity.

“People are simply playing lottery with their own sexual health, and potentially that of others, by not being aware of the very real risks. There is currently no cure for HIV and whilst it is potentially no longer the death sentence it once was, people are risking lives by not being aware.”

Meanwhile, Isabel Inman of sexual health charity Brook said the findings show the impact of societal stigma around STIs.

“This is why we all need to work together to challenge prejudice and change attitudes,” Inman said.

“By promoting and normalising safer sex, healthy relationships and getting tested, we can empower people to take charge of their own sexual health and wellbeing.”

More: AIDS, HIV

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