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Isa ang AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) sa mga pinaka-notorious na sakit – and for good reason. With about 40 million people all over the globe affected by the disease, it is one of the world’s most serious public health challenges. Kahit sa Pilipinas, talamak na ang sakit na ito. Ayon nga sa United Nations, the Philippines has the fastest-growing AIDS epidemic in the Asia-Pacific region.

And because AIDS is entwined with a taboo subject (sex), there are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding the disease. Here are some that you should know in order to protect yourself better from AIDS:

Myth: Kailangang Tuluyang Layuan ang Isang Taong May AIDS Para Di Ako Mahawa

Di mo kailangang iwasan nang tuluyan ang mga taong may AIDS upang di mahawa. You can’t get AIDS from normal, everyday activities such as sharing a bathroom, sharing food, and even hugging/kissing a person with AIDS. Kahit nga ang kagat ng lamok – from one person with AIDS to an uninfected person – ay di nakakahawa. Napatunayan na lahat ito ng mga doktor.

You can only get AIDS through these specific body fluids: semen (including pre-cum), blood, vaginal fluid, anal mucous, and breastmilk. So unless you’re having unprotected sex, drinking the breastmilk of a mother who has AIDS, injecting drugs with a needle that has infected blood, receiving infected blood donations or organ transplants, you’re safe. (Babies born from mothers with AIDS can also get infected)

The HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) also can’t survive in air or water, so sharing a house with an infected person isn’t dangerous. Swimming pools and sharing utensils are safe. Even coughs and sneezes contain only trace amounts of HIV, so they’re also safe.

Myth: Di Na Pwedeng Mag-Sex Kung May AIDS Ka

People with AIDS can have sex – but not UNPROTECTED sex. Even if both partners are already infected, they should still wear a condom because HIV has so many strains and getting infected with two or more HIV strains can complicate treatment.

Also, mutual masturbations and hand-jobs can’t give you AIDS. There’s also only a small risk of HIV transmission through oral sex so unless you have large open sores in your genital area or your partner has bleeding gums, you’re ok. If you want to feel safer, you can use tools such as dental dams to further lower risks.

Myth: AIDS Is A Risk Only For Certain Groups of People

Walang pinipili ang AIDS – walang itong pakialam kung babae ka o lalaki, straight o homosexual, matanda o bata, o kahit ano mang lahi mo. It won’t make any difference whether you’re the President of the United States of America or a teenager from Pasay – AIDS doesn’t care who you are or where you’re from as long as you’re not careful.

Myth: You Can Recognize It If People Have AIDS

Nope. Nope. Nope. Kung malakas ang loob mong makipag-unsafe sex dahil ‘healthy’ naman lahat ng partners mo, delikado ka. The symptoms of HIV differ from person to person – a lot of people don’t even show any symptom at all. For some people, it can even take years before they show signs of being infected. There is absolutely no way for you to be 100% sure that a person is ‘safe’ just by looking.

If you’ve had unprotected sex with various partners, the only way to know whether or not you have HIV is to get yourself tested. You owe it to yourself and to your partners.

Myth: Makakaiwas Ka sa AIDS Kung Maliligo Ka Bago at Pagkatapos Mag-Sex

Goodness gracious. No. No. No. No. No. The only proven ways of preventing HIV transmission is by wearing condoms or taking pre-exposure prophylaxis.

Also, maybe don’t vote for politicians who are against sexual education in schools. Kaya tayo ang may fastest-growing AIDS epidemic in the Asia-Pacific region eh – we’d rather stay uninformed than learn about these things.

While there is still no cure for AIDS (there are treatments available that manage the symptoms, but no cure yet), knowing the facts from fake news is the first step in preventing and managing the disease. Don’t believe random dudes from telling you what to do. Get yourself checked every time you think you’re at risk of contracting HIV. And if you already have AIDS, always check with your doctor when you want to try something new about your treatment.

Mark Isaiah David

Mark David aims to leave the world a little bit better by writing upward, sharing what he has, defeating evil (bosses in video games), and raising his autistic son the best way that he can. You can find him at https://medium.com/@markisaiahdavid