Breaking Down HIV Stigma


There are 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States. There are still many people, 1 in 7, that do not know their HIV status. Due to stigma around HIV, many people who are at high risk, do not go and get tested. It is time to break down those stigmas associated around HIV and time for people to start getting routine HIV tests.

HIV explained

HIV, human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that attacks a person’s CD4 T cells. CD4 cells are an important component when it comes to a person’s immune system. For a person who is living with HIV, their immune system is compromised.

Undetectable and untransmittable

The goal living with HIV is to get them into medical care right away. Once in medical care, the goal is to have them start medication. The sooner people start medication, the faster they will become undetectable. Undetectable means untransmittable, so someone with HIV who is undetectable CANNOT transmit HIV.

Living long healthy lives

With the correct medication, people living with HIV can live long and healthy lives. Being diagnosed with HIV is no longer a death sentence. People living with HIV do not always develop AIDS.

You can’t get it from any contact

No, you cannot get HIV from kissing, hugging, sharing food, or shaking hands. The only way that HIV transmission occurs is through blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breastmilk.

Safe babies

Women who are HIV positive can safely have children. Women who are thinking about children need to be on medication in order to avoid HIV transmission to the baby.

Taking control of your own sexual health

There is a HIV prevention drug for people that are HIV- negative, called PrEP. It is a pill that is taken daily, and it protects people from getting HIV by 92%. Since the PrEP only protects people from HIV, it is important to continue using condoms while on PrEP to protect from other sexually transmitted infections.

People living with HIV are still facing discrimination and stigma. Together, by sharing facts, experiences and compassion we can move away from stigma and turn towards acceptance and support.

Authored by: Abigail Gonzalez, HIV Prevention Case Manager

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