HIV. It is probably the most taboo of all diseases, especially here in Malaysia where it may be often unfairly associated with the LGBTQ community and drug addicts. Similarly, AIDS is another word that is often spoken with judgement, terror and even disdain. Despite overwhelming health campaigns and awareness programs, many of us may still be ignorant of the true nature of HIV and AIDS.\u00a0Here are some myths about HIV and AIDS that need to be eliminated once and for all. Myth 1: HIV and AIDS are the Same Thing AIDS is caused by HIV, but that doesn\u2019t mean everyone who has HIV will get AIDS. AIDS is the last stage of HIV infection where your immunity has become so severely compromised that you become susceptible to a slew of diseases. In general, people with HIV tend to have mild flu-like symptoms. But with proper medication and supervision, a HIV positive can lead a normal, healthy life just like everyone else. However, it gets a little complicated when you enter the AIDS stage. AIDS is not reversible; even if your conditions improve significantly. Myth 2: You Should Not Touch a HIV Positive Person An old footage of Princess Diana embracing a child with AIDS still remains one of the most monumental moments in the history of medicine. Not only did she obliterate the myth that you could get HIV from physical contact, it also renewed people\u2019s belief in science.\u00a0Doctors have been reassuring the public for years that touching an infected person will not give you the disease. The only way HIV can spread is through the direct cross-contamination of bodily fluids. This usually means infection via unprotected intercourse, blood transfusions, infected syringes (as is the case with drug takers), mother to infant, and very rarely, through mouth-to-mouth contact (such as with kissing). Even then, HIV medication can make it so that a HIV positive person is 100% non-infectious. Which means they will not pass on the disease to another person, even with unprotected sex. Myth 3: People with HIV are Ill-Fated A person having HIV doesn\u2019t equate having a death sentence. Only at the late stages of HIV infection, also known as AIDS, is where people usually may not survive. But with medication, you can be entirely asymptomatic. That means you don\u2019t experience any of the symptoms and can otherwise lead a normal, healthy life. However, many HIV positive people may still choose to keep their condition a secret for fear of persecution. This is likely because unfortunately, there have been many cases of people being fired from jobs, denied housing and even thrown out of restaurants because they were found to be HIV-positive. Myth 4: HIV Is Caused by Gay People Probably the most harmful stigma surrounding AIDS is that it is somehow caused or spread primarily by members of the LGBTQ community. This may be mainly due to the prevalence of anal sex amongst gay people. But the truth is HIV can be easily spread by heterosexual people too through vaginal sex. The stigma began in the US when reports showed that a large number of gay men had been found with the disease. Many of them did not survive due to the ignorance of the time. But now people are slowly opening their eyes to the truth. Gay people are not the cause or main contributor of HIV transmissions. Myth 5: There Is No Cure for HIV Yes and no. This is a complicated subject and a recent, albeit accidental scientific discovery. Despite decades of HIV research, scientist have still not found a cure. That is until a lucky coincidence revealed the answer. In 2009, a leukaemia patient (who was also HIV positive) underwent bone marrow transplant. As luck would have it, the donor possessed a rare genetic mutation that made them virtually immune to the HIV virus. Doctors were surprised when tests showed a drop in the HIV viral load, until they were entirely killed off. This was the only the third ever recorded case of HIV being cured. It confirmed previous assumptions about the potential of stem cell therapy as a HIV treatment. However, due to the rare conditions that was required for this miracle to take place, this "cure" is still not accessible for a lot of people. Medical regulations on bone marrow transplants have so far not been authorised as part of HIV treatment. You need to already have a disease treatable through a bone marrow transplant to qualify. But with this breakthrough discovery, scientists are now one step closer to solving the puzzle. Drug trials are currently underway as we speak, and the results look promising. So, the future has never looked brighter for those struggling with HIV. Myth 6: HIV Positive People Can\u2019t Have Biological Children Don't believe the naysayers. HIV positive people can indeed have families, get married, and yes, even have children of their own. If you have HIV and are devastated by this harmful myth, it\u2019s time to keep your chin up. Because it\u2019s definitely safe and possible for you to have kids, even if both of you have HIV. But such an endeavour should only be attempted with direct and express supervision of medical professionals. Yes, the journey will be hard but well worth it. Here\u2019s what you should know about having a baby as a HIV positive parent: \tYou (and\/or your partner) need to take your medication religiously. There may also be blood tests as well to ensure your viral load is under control. \tYou may need to do a C-section to further reduce transmission risk. \tYou have to forego breastfeeding (but that doesn\u2019t mean you can\u2019t get donor milk). \tConsider artificial insemination like IVF or IUI (and sperm washing) to further reduce risk. Don't Believe Harmful HIV Myths To recap, HIV does not spread through touch, is manageable with medication, and does not destroy your dreams of motherhood. Yes, men and women with HIV can also adopt if they choose. But don\u2019t let that decision be because you are scared you may pass on the condition to your biological kids. Trust in the science and in your doctors. And for those with family members or friends with HIV or AIDS, remember to be the pillar they may need. They need all your love, more than ever. While you\u2019re at it, parents, don\u2019t forget to share this article with your loved ones. Let's all help end the stigma against HIV once and for all; remember, change begins within ourselves! For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!