Nearly nine out of ten people living with HIV still have to respond to myths they hear about the virus.
A study commissioned by Terrence Higgins Trust also revealed that six out of ten positive people describe the public’s understanding of HIV as “poor” or “very poor”.
The most common myth heard over the last five years is that HIV and AIDS are the same thing, which was reported by two-thirds of respondents (63%).
Over half the people questioned had also heard the myths that HIV is a death sentence (52%) and that someone living with HIV cannot access financial products like a mortgage or life insurance (51%).
A third (37%) had also heard that there was a cure for the virus.
Policy Director at THT, Lisa Power, believes the results of the survey are concerning: “It’s worrying that we have one part of the public who are stuck in the 1980s when HIV would kill you, and another who have flashed forward to a cure that doesn’t exist yet.”
The survey also revealed that 83% of people living with HIV could recall a time when they didn’t feel able to disclose their positive status.
When asked about their worries why they didn’t feel comfortable, the respondents listed fears of negative reactions, onward gossip and people’s ignorance.
Lisa Powers added: “We can’t blame people for being confused; the last national awareness campaign in this country was over 25 years ago.
“However, ignorance of the facts can make life tremendously difficult for those living with the virus. It’s also a shortcut to getting infected yourself.”