I was reading some posts recently that had me a bit up in arms. In one of them a comment was made, by the author:
Unfortunately AIDS is spread by any close continuous contact as well as sexual activity, so care workers are also at risk and birth control devices do no good for them.
There were several comments made after that... some of them by people who I respected. And yet, not a thing was said about the inaccuracy of the statement above. It quietly slipped in, like many others... I'm not sure if no-one bothered to read it or if they just didn't care... or if they didn't know the truth. But it made me angry. I was involved with AIDS and HIV organizations for years in Arkansas, where it was really needed. Indeed, that was the reason I got involved with gay rodeo: throughout its history, gay rodeo was closely tied with HIV groups. One of my employees once started a rumour that I was positive myself. If anything, I was more annoyed that if he was going to start a rumour, he would choose that as the subject than something that would actually hurt me. It was very typical of him.
The truth is that AIDS is not transmitted by any casual or continual contact. It is transmitted through blood or by semen. Period. Sure, people are afraid that they will catch it some other way; but they would be the first. I have had several friends live with HIV+ individuals (one was married: positive to negative) and they did not come down with the virus because they did not exchange secretions. They were careful.
The stigma leveled against the HIV+ community has been horrendous. Most people associate the condition with Â“obviousÂ” moral lapses and treat them that way. But I have known some wonderful, caring and ethical people who have been infected. They are no more immoral than you or I. When I hear this I want to remind people of John 8:2-11: the woman caught in adultery by the Pharisees and brought before Jesus. The key line: "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Most of us have just been lucky that the mistakes we've made haven't come back to haunt us.
Discrimination against HIV+ persons has been worse in the past. Some wanted them cast into isolation wards or criminalized unless the followed very precise rules regarding interaction with others. This was one thing when we were first finding out about the disease, it is quite another now that we do know about it and STILL make the same comments. Nowadays, it is just ignorance and lack of research.
I am the first to say that risk of infection is real and people need to be aware. Sexual abstention is one choice, and is the most effective: no question. But if sexual activity is chosen, there are ways to reduce risk. Use a condom: when used correctly they are over 98% effective. (They are not perfect; that is why abstention is best.) Understand the options. Use wisdom in making the choice.
AIDS is transmitted in three ways: From sexual contact without protection, from the mixing of ones blood with infected blood, and from an infected pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection can occur from blood transfusions of infected blood, or sharing 'dirty' needles. (Needles already used, in this case, by a HIV positive person.)
Routine social or community contact with an HIV infected person carries no risk of transmission; only sexual exposure and exposure to blood or tissues carries a risk. Whereas HIV has been found in saliva, tears, urine and bronchial secretions, there is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted after contact with these secretions.
-William E Garrett and Donald T Kirkendall, Exercise and Sport Science.pg